“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’” – Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
I heard this Bible verse many times, but looked at it in a new light this weekend as I’ve been pondering what it means to be happy. You never really think about joy being equated with strength, but the prophet Nehemiah was on to something.
Real joy is an inside job. It has very little to do with your outside situation. Much like true peace is remaining calm in the midst of chaos, joy comes from your core and isn’t necessarily reflective of what’s going on around you. Because of this, joy gives you a leg up in many situations.
Joy is a great defense. Joy has the ability to make your happiness impervious to attacks from the outside world. So, when that driver cuts you off or your neighbor says an unkind word, you don’t take it personally. It’s not getting past your fortress of joy.
Holding on to joy means letting go of grudges. It’s really tough to be bitter and happy at the same time. Joy simply will not share the same heart space with unforgiveness. When you refuse to forgive someone, it makes you weak. It allows that person (who, most likely, has totally moved on) to control you and keep you trapped in the past. If you’re able to let things go and resist being offended, you hold all the power. You and your joy take back control and foster a strong emotional life.
Joy lets love loose. Something about an unshakeable happiness unlocks the restrictions we put on compassion towards others. Happy people give of their time, money and energy to causes outside of themselves. They show love and they spread love. Joy allows the love you feel inside to break loose and run rampant, blessing everyone in its path. And there is no greater feat of strength than to love without reservation.
So, what do you say? How has joy made you strong? Think of ways that inner happiness has given you strength.