Sunday, December 1, 2013

My greatest strength

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Areas we excel in and areas that need some shoring up.  I, for instance, am good at organizing things but not so good at cleaning.  I am good at planning but not implementing.  I am good at sudoku puzzles but not words with friends.  Mostly I will confess that it is easier to see my weaknesses than my strengths.  Always aware of my failures, never wanting to boast too confidently in my triumphs.

This morning I read this familiar phrase:
"The joy of the Lord is my strength"
Normally I think of this in terms of giving me strength to do something but today it struck me different.  Maybe this one of my strengths; knowing and experiencing joy only found in the Lord.  Maybe this is all of my strengths.

I do have joy in the Lord.  I love my life and delight in it but it isn't perfect and isn't always fun.  The joy I have always lived with is not the result of having a perfect life but the result of the love I have for the Lord. The joy I experience in knowing and following Him.

What makes me a great mother, homemaker, wife, friend, employee, etc?  It is my joy of the Lord!  And if I want to be better?  Focus on strengthening my joy in the Lord!  Often when we feel under attack our joy gets lost.  We turn our attention toward the specific problem and try to gain strength for that one situation rather than retaining strength in our joy in the Lord.  My strength comes from the Lord, comes from delighting in Him, comes when I allow myself to be filled with His joy.  It gives me what I need to face any problems, frustrating situations or simply answer the question, "what's for dinner?" every night.

If ever anyone was filled with the joy of the Lord it was Paul.  In his letter to the Philippians he mentions joy at least 16 times in 4 chapters.  And in Philippians, filled with joy, Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  In this book some call the "epistle of joy" I don't think I am making too big a leap to say that it is the joy Paul has in the Lord that allows him to feel he can do all things.  When your strength is the joy of the lord you really can do anything.

When Paul is saying he can do all things we are talking about a guy in prison, a guy in serious peril in circumstances he would not choose and did not have control over.  Yet he writes things like,
"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance" 
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
Life is full of challenges. But they don't have to get me down.  I am filled with the joy of the Lord and "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

Where does your greatest strength come from?