The Joy of The Lord
MOMent: a situation that occurs due to tiny versions of oneself creating a new normal.
When you become a mom your world shifts. You have daily and hourly MOMents. You discover a level of love you didn’t know was possible as you snuggle your newborn to sleep. But hours later you discover a new level of weariness as you sit rocking your baby back to sleep again- and you think, please don’t wake up when I set you back in your bed- oh no! He’s crying! – Will I ever sleep again? – and you fall asleep in the rocker, with your beloved baby on your chest with equal parts love and annoyance swirling through your heart and mind. This is your new normal.
There are wonderful MOMents: when your baby first says “Ma Ma”, when your child tells you he loves you, and when you see your child share without being asked. There are painful MOMents: when your child tells you no, when you lose your temper over the third spilled snack in 15 minutes, and when your child breaks their brand new toy. This is where the mom-guilt begins to creep into our thoughts. We use words like “momfail” and feel overcome by how unqualified we are to parent these little lives.
In Nehemiah 8 Israel is in exile, the wall around Jerusalem has just been rebuilt, and the people are weeping at how far they have fallen out of step with the Lord. But Nehemiah tells them, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (v. 10). The word “strength” can also be translated as “stronghold”. This was God’s salvation story. The people were learning to look to God and His redemption rather than their own shortcomings.
Like Israel, I often rehearse my failings and allow myself to dwell on the I-should-haves and the why-did-I-do-thats. But you know what? Satan desires to steal my joy. He wants nothing more than for me to rely on my own strength and not on the Lord. He whispers reminders of my guilt and failures over and over hoping to get a foothold in my mind. When this happens, I am more self-absorbed and more reactive when the next MOMent occurs.
Second Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Just as with exiled Israel, our stronghold is the Lord. He gives us strength to take every thought captive, even thoughts of guilt and failure. God uses those painful MOMents to refine our thinking and gives us the opportunity to become more Christ-like in our actions. The joy of the Lord is our strength and when our focus is on Him then our actions will mirror His character.
Each day I can choose to be joyful in all that the Lord has done in my life. Each day I can choose to be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow His strength to carry me. With Christ as my stronghold, every day can be filled with joyful MOMents. I want joy to be my new normal.