As we were driving back from The Netherlands recently, we were listening to the pastor of our home church in America, Pastor Dave Rolph. He said something very interesting:
"All Satan has to do is steal your joy,
and then he has your strength"
I've known the verse 'The joy of the Lord is your strength' probably from before I could read, as I remember singing the song when I was very little. But I've never thought of it back to front like that. If your joy in the Lord goes, then your strength will also go - it makes sense doesn't it?
But then that got my brain whirring... if that is the case then I need to figure out how Satan steals my joy so I can be on my guard against it and maybe stop it from happening! Lack of strength is a big deal to me, since I am a stay at home mother and homeschool three kids and it takes a lot out of me.
Here's some ideas of things that can steal my joy, and probably yours too. If you have more ideas please comment at the end and let me know!
- Sin - in the well known psalm where David repents of his adultery and murder, he says, "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation." One of the effects of sin is that we forfeit our joy of the Lord and of our salvation. For me this often manifests as laziness, meaning that I go to bed late and don't do what I should do which leads to tiredness and discouragement. Also overeating - gluttony - which leads to feeling guilty at my lack of self-control.
- Tiredness - if I don't get enough rest then gradually over time I start feeling down, and if I don't get enough sleep then everything the next day is so much more difficult.
- Worry - we can worry about what is happening in our lives or other people's.
- Other people - other people can steal our joy if we let them, through their comments and actions, because we are all sinners, or we might get justly rebuked!
What can we do about these things? Well I think it could help if we find out individually where Satan tends to steal our joy, as it is probably different for everyone. Then maybe we can figure out ways to help prevent it.
For me this would mean continuing my ongoing struggle against sin, making sure I get enough rest and sleep, and taking my worries to God in prayer.
But also more than anything realising that God wants us to have joy, 'Rejoice in the Lord always' so if we're losing that joy we need to fight back to get it. We can even have joy in the midst of affliction (2 Cor 7:4, 8:2, James 1:2) which is probably a challenge for most of us!
"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.' James 1:2-4