So, I didn’t grow up with a pet. But having 3 boys, I knew a dog was probably in our future, and I haven’t regretted our decision at all. She’s been a sweet addition to our family of 5 and has brought a sense of consistency in all the crazy that this season of raising kiddos brings. We got her as a puppy for Christmas one year, so it seemed fitting to name her “Joy.” I once heard a pastor share a funny joke that the best way to starve a dog is to have more than one person responsible for feeding her. If I thought my husband fed her and he thought I’d fed her, the poor dog could easily starve if we both assumed the other had taken care of it. I find this question occurs at least daily: “Did anyone feed Joy?” Joy is obviously our dog, but what about our own Joy? Are we feeding it or starving it?
I love the story of Nehemiah. After Nehemiah successfully rebuilds the wall around Jerusalem, he reminds the Israelites not to forget the word of the Lord and to read it aloud so all can hear. As they do, they are led to repentance and begin weeping and bowing down to worship with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah says something so significant, yet probably unexpected. He says, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:6).
What does it look like for Joy to actually be your strength? Well, if we look at the story of Nehemiah, the people of God had just witnessed a supernatural miracle and seen the wall built up around their city - a picture of God restoring their brokenness and giving them protection against their enemy. As they heard the word of the Lord, they also recognized they had fallen away and sought other idols besides the One True God. Their position of repentance seemed appropriate, yet Nehemiah said stop grieving and rejoice!
Jeremiah puts it this way: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of Hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). There is so much talk in our culture about diets and what to eat and when to eat and how much to eat. But I wonder what would happen if we learned to feed ourselves food that had the power to heal and satisfy our soul. Jesus reminded the devil as he was being tempted, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from God” (Matthew 4:4).
I can write from my own experience that His Word is my Joy. I don’t write this flippantly. It’s my plan A. I don’t have plan B. God is who He says He is and I am who He says I am. That truth, that way of thinking, that word in and through me, is my stake in the ground. I have to make sure I don’t miss an opportunity to feed myself; when I am feeling weak, I have to ask - is there a lie I’m believing about this situation or about myself? Then I can quickly combat the lie with truth! When God says He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemy, He is actually giving us a beautiful invitation to feed ourselves from His table of Joy despite trials or tribulations. It was, in fact, the Joy that was set before Jesus that enabled Him to endure the cross. Whether it’s reading the Word or hearing His still small voice, I want that to be what I feed on throughout my day. Nothing compares to His voice. And nothing will make our hearts come alive but Him! If He spoke us into existence, it just makes sense that His words contain what we need to stay fully alive!
“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with joy; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
That sounds like a wonderfully Joyful God to me. If you seem to have lost your joy, stay still and see if you can hear His song over you. That’s sure to feed your joy!
About Jeffie Jones
Jeffie is a Texas girl through and through. Born and raised in the Dallas area, she now resides in Frisco, TX with her husband and 3 boys. She’s passionate about seeing Jesus get the full reward of His suffering on the earth. She loves studying and meditating on the word of God and receiving His promises over every obstacle she faces. She enjoys early, quiet mornings with Jesus and the joy and fellowship of friends! She loves spending time with her family and enjoys working out and watching sports. Her greatest joy is believing the promises of God and seeing them come to pass! She has a heart to see children healed and set free from autism by the power of God’s shalom!