“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I would use this scripture when I would workout. When I couldn’t lift a certain weight, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I was going through a situation, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” And if you played sports, another famous scripture is “I can do all things through Christ who gives me….” You know the rest.
Recently, I was thinking about what the scripture means to me, my life, and my situation. It’s easy to quote Nehemiah 8:10 when we receive a blessing, or we get a promotion we were believing for, but can I truly quote this scripture and believe in it when things aren’t going the way I planned or want? I started thinking about the word “joy.”
We think of joy as happiness, an expression of what we perceive as pleasure. During this fast, my wife and I are fasting meats. That means seafood, beef, pork, chicken, and whatnot. I definitely could go for a big piece of ribeye right now. But my prayer going into this fast was to see food as nutrition, and not pleasure. I learned that I was finding happiness in food.
However, when I think of true joy, a godly joy, I like how John Piper describes it best:
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”
The purpose of our fast is to acknowledge something that consumes our lives abundantly – social media for me – and replace it with God by praying, reading His word and worship. I recommend doing all three! You’ll begin to see your view of God change.
Once you focus on “why” you are fasting, your purpose for fasting becomes clearer. My true joy is in what Christ did for me, and if I didn’t receive a single blessing, I know I got the greatest blessing of all and that is a Savior who died so I can live in heaven for eternity.
So here we are, less than a week away from ending 21 days of fasting and prayer. What has God revealed to you? Or have you been feeling stuck? Either way, press in even more and watch how God shows up in amazing ways!
-Pastor Chris Clatt