Joy; Guest Piece

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. {Nehemiah 8:10, ESV}

There was a time when social media, especially Facebook, would rob any happiness I had. I would look on my News Feed and see hundreds of my “friends” posting pictures of their well-dressed children, new cars, a child speaking their first word at 4 months of age, luxurious vacations, and pictures of pets sitting on perfectly clean carpets. I think we both know this list could go on.

At the time, these pictures were not just pictures to me. The pictures were what I thought to be the key to joy. I wanted what they had, and not what I did have because what I had was not good enough. During this period in my life, I was deeply blinded by materialism that I could not see what true, pure, joy is: Christ.

I love the bible passage above from Nehemiah. Long story short, the Israelites had just returned from a long exile, and just before the Feast of Booths, Ezra read the Book of Law to “all the men and women and all who were able to hear and understand,” (ESV). Now the Book of the Law was not just the 10 commandments; the Book of the Law was all of the laws in the Pentateuch, which was around 612 laws. Ezra read to these men, women, and probably some children, from “early morning to midday.”

For five hours these men, women, and children stood around while they heard the law being read. I can imagine some of those women were moms, like us, trying to breastfeed or quiet an unruly or hungry toddler, maybe all three at the same time. Let me go ahead and tell you what I think joy is not.

While the Israelites were being read the law, they wept. From what I understand they were crying because they were happy, but I think there were some tears being shed at the prospect of keeping all 612 laws flawlessly. I know I would have. After all they just got back from an exile because of disobedience, the thought of another exile must have been terrifying.

Ezra saw they were crying and consoled them. He told them not to weep, and here is where we get to our verse, “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The joy of God is Christ, who is your strength. You do not have to do this life alone.

This is how I personally look at this verse. God’s joy is Christ and His redemption for the broken people whose joy is robbed when they see joy elsewhere. My joy is Christ, regardless of what I own because what I own is from God.

C.S. Lewis said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” How true is that? When I am too busy comparing my life to others, I fail to see the One who gave me life in the first place; Christ. I fail to see Christ’s redemption and eternal life with Him.

The world screams more while Christ tells us gently that He is there for us. He puts His arm around us, comforting us, and tells us He is enough despite what the world may lead us to think. Whenever we think we have no joy, we need to look to God. Seems easy enough, right? However, I think we both know it can be difficult to get on our knees to plea above when all sense of joy is robbed because we see do not have enough of it.

Comparison is a thief, much like the enemy. In fact, when we compare the enemy delights in the fact that our eyes are turned away from the cross and onto something else. Though we are redeemed we still struggle with sin, but thank God for the strength of Christ who tells us we are forgiven.

When you start comparing remember the cross. Remind yourself there is Someone out there who loves you and is the best thing for you despite what our neighbor has. By reminding ourselves of the Best and the grace it brings, it enables us to share with others the freedom of comparison. So while your neighbor may have a new car, also remind yourself they may not know Christ.

Sisters, I am here to tell each of you the Good News of Jesus Christ because I still struggle with comparison at times. I am here to remind you our joy is found in the One who we call our Savior. 

And I am also here to tell you that comparison will still happen because we are broken people, but our true strength is rooted in Christ who redeemed us from the bondage of comparison.

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About the Author:

Steffany Kammerman. Wife to Steve. Mommy to Emma. Daughter of a King. Book Worm. Fabric Hoarder. Pen Stealer. Semi-Crunchy. Back in School.


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