So, last week I saw someone post the scripture “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. I really wanted to respond with, “Good for you! I’m over here just tryin to get through my day without slapping someone!” But then the most encouraging revelation dropped on me………
I realize this person was most likely trying to be encouraging and had no ill intention. But sometimes I have to wonder how much thought christians put into their encouragement vs just throwing scripture out at the masses. I don’t know about you, but on more than a few occasions the well-meaning christian has lobbed scriptures at me under the guise of encouragement…..and I have left feeling empty, dare I say worse off than I was before.
In my opinion this is one of the most overused and abused scriptures thrown at someone when they are having a hard time. And subsequently, when this scripture is ‘thrown up’ at someone it makes them feel like a spiritual failure BECAUSE they are not ‘feelin it’. (and I also have to wonder if the person ‘tossing’ the scripture out there is doing so in order to easily stay uninvolved, dismissive, and to make themselves feel more ‘spiritual’ – spiritual bullying of sorts….. but I digress) Let me remind you; They are going through STUFF and rarely does that feel like ‘JOY’, and you just pointed out how UN-spiritual they must be if they don’t feel joyful. Nice job.
So, in the split second that all of this is flooding my mind, I feel the Holy Spirit grab my attention and say “It’s not YOUR joy that gives you strength – it is mine” and suddenly I saw a small child learning to walk.
The child saw everyone around him walking, jumping, skipping, and even running, and felt nothing but COMPLETE FRUSTRATION and then determination – but he DID NOT feel ‘joy’. He gets up to give walking a try, and falls. He is SO tired of crawling, of the sore knees, and falling down has now hurt his bum and he wonders if he was ever meant to walk – or was that just for everyone else?
But then he looks up and sees the complete and utter joy of his father. Suddenly he is encouraged to give it another try. He takes a small step, yet falls again, but THIS TIME his eyes are glued to his father, who is overjoyed and encouraging him to do it again. Over and over, one fall after another, but every time he increases in strength, in technique, in balance, and eventually had the strength to walk on his own into the arms of his father.
My friend – I GET IT! What you are going through does NOT make you feel joyful. It’s OK. Stop trying to manufacture the ‘feeling’ of joy within yourself, and instead just tap into the face of the Father who is overjoyed that you have even decided to try and take that first step. When you see how lit-up He is over you, you will find your strength to get back up.