…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.~Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV
When I trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, an amazing metamorphosis took place.
The words, “I believe,” miraculously transformed my anxiety and hopelessness into supernatural joy, unlike anything I experienced before. Jesus knew exactly what I needed at the moment of my salvation, intoxicating every cell like a drug, eliminating any doubt of who provided the euphoric infusion.
Although I love Jesus with all my heart, I wondered why I don’t always feel joyful like I did those thirty-plus years ago. This curiosity prompted me to search for clarity when I stumbled across this verse, “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).
I mulled over this passage of scripture for a long time before appreciating its meaning. The joy set before Jesus as he hung on the cross had nothing to do with His circumstances, but everything to do with you and me. He knew His death would bring forth life, giving mankind an opportunity for redemption, so we might live with Him for eternity. Jesus’ love for us gave Him the strength to endure the unfathomable torture.
During my first overseas mission trip to Africa in 2004, our medical team ministered to many adults and children who lived in the bush. The drive to and from those locations were long and tortuous, dodging ditches and bouncing on miles of uneven dirt roads. On our last day, we had eight hundred people waiting in line to be seen. Some had traveled from afar to reach us before we left for America. With only three of us providing care, the physical and emotional turmoil made me want to run and never look back. In fact, I swore I would never return.
Ten years later, a doctor friend at work asked me to go with his church to Africa for medical missions. Immediately, my mind recalled memories from the first trip and screamed “No,” while my heart jumped with excitement and joy. He asked me to commit the matter to prayer. I’m ashamed to say that before praying, I reminded myself how much I hated Africa and never wanted to go back. To my dismay, joy leapt within me each time. In all transparency, I only agreed to pray for two weeks because I waited for God to say don’t go—but no such luck.
There was no mistaking the joy of the Lord in this circumstance. Jesus led me down a path I didn’t want to travel. Without His intervention I would have made the wrong decision, one based on an unpleasant experience instead of a focus on eternity. Needless to say, I was blessed by the trip and returned to Africa twice since then. Despite my initial reluctance, I followed God’s will and not my own. Through obedience and seeking His desire, the Lord’s joy strengthened each step I took.
I realized that joy is not an emotional response like happiness. It’s more like a spiritual engine, powered by love and obedience, shifting me from neutral to drive. Not everyone is destined to travel overseas to a third world country, but maybe you are called to share the love of Jesus with a neighbor, a co-worker, or a family member. Whatever destiny awaits, let God’s joy give you the fuel to move forward.
When your mind says no, but your heart says yes, which path will you take?
Father in Heaven, please intervene when my will takes over and tries to blind me from the road You have paved. I know Your plan is perfect, but the enemy constantly gets in the way with attempts to poison my view. Give me the strength to not let my past, or the enemy, dictate my future, robbing me of all the blessings you have in store.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright 2021: Just Joy: Irene Wintermyer: All Rights Reserved