by Linda Veath Cox

… for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Did you know that Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (KJV) lists over 300 verses in the Bible that contain the words joy and rejoice or variants of them? Methinks the Lord might be telling us something!

For example, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). It’s a simple statement yet one with a depth that sometimes gets lost in its simplicity. To begin with, we too often wrongly substitute the word happiness for joy. Happiness depends on what happens. Joy does not. It is not touched by external conditions because joy is only to be found IN THE LORD.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy. All joyful thoughts! But when our minds lose their focus on the Lord, they begin to fill up with false, wrong, ugly, selfish, critical thoughts. The more we think on those things, the more they take over our thinking and we lose our joy.

And when we lose our joy, we lose our strength.

1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that love is patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not rude or self-seeking, not easily angered, trusts and is hopeful. But when we lose our focus on the Lord, we lose our patience, our kindness. We envy and boast. We become rude and self-seeking, irritable and angry, distrustful. Our love fails and we lose our joy.

And when we lose our joy, we lose our strength.

But we lose even more than that. Because if our thoughts are not joy-filled and our love is failing, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control—that should be growing in our lives actually starts to die.  We become fruitless and we lose even more of our joy.

And when we lose our joy, we lose our strength.

Controlling our thoughts, living lives of love, and producing the fruit of the Spirit are not possible without the Lord. He gives us the strength for these things. And we find our joy. IN HIM. Which, of course gives us more strength. Joy and strength. Strength and Joy. They certainly do go hand in hand, don’t they!

Wow! All that from one Bible verse?

And just think …. We only have 30o or so more joy verses to go.

Linda Veath Cox is a regular contributor to DivineDetour. She recently retired after twenty-five years as a district office secretary for the State of Illinois. Her first loves are studying the Bible and reading, but she occasionally tries her hand at writing. Her work is published in All My Bad Habits I Learned from Grandpa (Thomas Nelson),The One-Year Life Verse Devotional (Tyndale), Life Lessons from Grandparents (Write Integrity), Love Is a Verb (a devotional from Bethany House), and Chicken Soup for the Soul’s I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That. She lives in a small town in the Midwest with the “Bone Mafia,” her two indoor/outdoor mutts.