Does your joy feel illusive — no more than a non-existent illusion?
Or maybe it feels elusive. It’s visible, but out of reach.
Or maybe your joy is just plain gone.
No matter, be encouraged. There’s hope.
Do not be grieved,
for the joy of the LORD
is your strength.
~ Nehemiah 8:10
Years ago, I found myself stuck in circumstances.
So I prayed. A lot.
But nothing changed, except my joy. It evaporated.
My patience began to run dry along with my joy.
I decided I was done praying.
I began praising instead.
I stopped focusing on my situation and focused on all the great things God has done from the beginning of time.
I praised Him for His unchanging, unfailing character — character trait by character trait.
I praised Him because He’s worthy of praise all the time.
As my praises rose, I experienced a startling development: my joy returned.
I’d stumbled upon something.
Praise didn’t change my circumstances, but it changed me.
It brought me the joy of the Lord. And it brought me strength.
As joy filled my heart and mind, I felt stronger in the midst of my circumstances.
My thinking became more clear.
Truth overcame fear and doubt. Confident assurance of His unconditional love overwhelmed me. Peace rose up knowing He simply will not fail us.
I felt motivated, empowered, and excited to follow the Lord. Wherever He led.
He led me to more praise, which led to more joy, which led to — you guessed it — more strength.
So, go ahead and pray for your trials and struggles, just make sure your praises far outweigh your prayers. The joy of the Lord springs from praise.
Our prayers say: Help, God! Because of our circumstances, we have no hope apart from You. (That’s good stuff.)
Our praises say: Thank you, God! Because of who You are, we have all the help and hope we could ever need. (That’s even better stuff.)
The Irish band Rend Collective with their fiddle-playing, foot-stomping, praise-inducing song The Joy of the Lord encourages us to make the best choice. This choice:
Step out on faith, walk on the waters of praise, grab the joy of the Lord by the hand and dance.
(After the music video, don’t miss Gareth and Ali from Rend Collective share the story behind this song.)
Now the music video: