There is no question that we live in challenging times. The geopolitical situation is alarming. The political situation of our own country is disheartening. And in the midst of it all, each of us face personal situations that sometimes bring heaviness of heart.
In the midst of these burdens and spiritual attacks, Christ promised His people the incredible resource of joy.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:11)
Some 430 years before Christ, the prophet Nehemiah—who knew what it was to labor for the Lord in incredibly disheartening circumstances—told God’s people, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Joy is an inner resource of the child of God that provides hidden strength for the onslaught of Satan’s attacks.Joy is an inner resource of the child of God that provides hidden strength for the onslaught of Satan’s attacks. Click To Tweet
Satan is constantly working to to rob us of joy. Through personal trials, ministry burdens, life difficulties, and circumstances outside our control, his goal is to undermine our strength and deplete our hope.
Without the joy of the Lord, we are more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. With it, our hands are strong to labor.
So how do we experience this joy? In the intensity of spiritual battle and the pressures of leadership, what do we do when we lose our joy? Here are six places to rediscover the joy of the Lord:
1. In remembering your salvation
Nehemiah’s statement on the joy of the Lord was to a revival-renewed people who had just heard and understood God’s Word:
And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.” (Nehemiah 8:12)
The Jews in Nehemiah’s day rejoiced when they understood the preached word of God. Through it, they had first wept as their sin was exposed (Nehemiah 8:9). Then, as Nehemiah redirected their attention to God’s mercy, he reminded them to rejoice in the salvation God had provided.
Do you remember the moment you were saved? The truth is, even then, there were problems in your life. (You may have even realized your need for Christ because of those problems.) But at the moment of salvation, your heart was focused on Christ and overflowing with joy.
Regardless of what difficulties you face today, if you know Christ as your Savior, you can rejoice in the fact that you are saved.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18)
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)
2. In abiding in Christ
Spiritual leaders desire strength for their areas of service. But strength for what we do comes from strength in who Christ is.Strength for what we do comes from strength in who Christ is. Click To Tweet
It is by abiding in Him—daily walking in fellowship with Him—that we have a continuous source of strength.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4–5)
Abiding in fellowship with Christ includes regular intake of the Word of God. The prophet Jeremiah found “joy and rejoicing” through the words of God
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)
The natural result of an abiding relationship with Christ is joy. In the same conversation when Jesus told His disciples to abide in Him, He further explained, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).The natural result of an abiding relationship with Christ is joy. Click To Tweet
3. In serving the Lord
Yes, serving can be exhausting. But God replenishes our strength as we serve, and service itself brings its own reward. Nehemiah knew this better than anyone. He labored night and day and hit more obstacles than he had ever imagined in the process. Yet with the walls completed and the people of God experiencing revival, this otherwise-weary leader could say, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Christ is worthy of our service, and He refills our joy as we serve.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. (Psalm 100:2)
There is a caveat I should mention to the joy found in serving. This joy comes as we serve the Lord. In truth, we serve God by serving others. But if we serve others expecting our joy to come from them or from their recognition and thanks, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and, eventually, resentment. If, however, we serve others for the sake of the Lord, looking to Him for our reward, we can serve with full joy even when our labor goes unnoticed or unthanked by those we serve. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10).
4. In sharing the gospel
Next to the joy of salvation itself is the joy of leading another person to Christ. This joy is referenced often throughout Scripture.
Jesus compared a lost soul’s salvation to the joy a shepherd feels when a lost sheep is found:
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (Luke 15:5–6)
Jesus told us that all of heaven rejoices when someone trusts Christ as Savior:
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10)
Acts 8 records Philip preaching the gospel in Samaria with many people trusting Christ. It concludes with this summary:
And there was great joy in that city. (Acts 8:8)
When a person trusts Christ as his Savior, there is joy all the way around—joy in Heaven, joy in the new Christian’s heart, and joy for the one who led him to Christ.
So if you’re struggling in your joy, make some time to share the gospel with people who do not know the Lord. You’ll be surprised how it will encourage you!Next to the joy of salvation itself is the joy of leading another person to Christ. Click To Tweet
5. In maintaining an eternal perspective
One day, every burden of labor and leadership will vanish, and we will step into eternity. On that day, and for all eternity after, we will bask in the presence of the Lord. But until that day, we must focus on the eternal, not on the temporal.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
When we remember these truths, we rest in the assurance that there is purpose in our pain, and we can experience the joy of the Lord even in suffering.
6. In the Lord Himself
Our circumstances fluctuate, but our God never changes. And this is why Paul wrote to the suffering believers at Philippi to encourage them to rejoice—not in in their circumstances, but in the Lord.Our circumstances fluctuate, but our God never changes. Click To Tweet
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
When we pin our joy to prosperity, victory, or progress, we will find our strength ebbing away during downturns. But when we pin our joy to God Himself, making a deliberate decision to rejoice in Him, we will find unending reasons to rejoice.
And, as a bonus, we will find that this joy becomes our strength.