Advent Joy - Day 5

"O my Strength, I sing praise to You;
     You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God."
                                                          - Psalm 59: 17

"We wait in hope for the LORD;
     He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
     for we trust in His holy Name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, 
          O LORD,
     even as we put our hope in You."
                                               - Psalm 33:20-22

"... the joy of the LORD is your strength."
                                       - Nehemiah 8:10

There's a beautiful connection between joy and strength.

Sometimes it takes all the strength you've got to choose joy in the midst of the worst circumstances you could have imagined - and sometimes, when you choose it, that joy goes deep and gives you the strength you need to get through those circumstances.

One of the things I so appreciate about the Psalms is their honesty.  There is no sugar-coating it or taming it down for David and his fellow poets.  When they lament, they lament - when they're angry, they're angry - and when they rejoice, they do it with abandon.

And one of the things that makes those abandoned moments of joy so glorious is that they exist in the context of lament, anger, confusion, betrayal, and a whole host of other emotions within the Psalms.  At the end of the day, even with all of that emotion (and very real circumstances that caused it!) - the Psalmists still say of God, "But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." (Psalm 59:16)  They choose to look past their situations and their feelings about their situations, and they remember Who God Is.  And they praise Him.

Because when you remember Who God Is - and all He's done, all He's promised, all He's able to do - you just can't help but praise Him.  And as you speak words of praise, the rest of you - your heart, soul, mind, emotions - will get in line with those words and agree - and you will find joy bubbling up in your soul.  And when joy meets that "peace that transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) in your soul - suddenly situations that seemed impossible aren't as overwhelming.  They may still be hard, and they may not go away for awhile - but God is your refuge, your strength, your shelter, your comforter, your healer, your provider, your redeemer....  and you're going to be okay.

So rejoice, friends.  "For unto you is born...a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

And that changes everything.

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