Friday, August 8, 2014

The joy of the Lord is my strength

Happiness and joy have been key themes in my meditations and Scriptures this week.

Today, the messages included a commentary on Pope Francis' top 10 tips for bring joy to one's life. Among the guidelines were some that I already had been striving toward, with varying degrees of success: Live and let live; give of yourself to others; move calmly; maintain a sense of leisure; avoid being negative; set Sunday apart; and work for peace.

Although as I write this on Friday night, I am tired and have a headache that is related either to a toothache or sinuses, overall I have felt energized this week as my mind has settled often on this verse: "The joy of the Lord is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10.)

Often, my mood lightened as I found myself thinking: "How awesome is that? Returning my focus to the Lord brings joy, and in that joy is strength."

It also came in handy when I found myself starting to moan about tedious extra tasks that seemed to interrupt my routine this week. The Lord. Joy in the Lord. Strength in joy in the Lord. And eventually, I was grateful for the ability and opportunity to do the task, even if it seemed tedious.

Now, the Scriptures and meditations don't solve another dilemma I continue to battle: that I always seem to run out of time. So far, I've gotten no clear answers to my prayers to either help me not be so easily distracted, or to be quicker and more efficient at each thing I do. Instead, I still get stuck making even minor decisions, and then fretting as time fritters away. And one unexpected occurrence -- a phone call, rain when I expect sunshine, someone missing a day of work -- threatens to derail every bit of progress.

But even then, before I go to bed and when I wake up, I return to the guiding theme: The joy of the Lord is my strength.

These are some of the Scriptures I encountered this week that helped me stay focused on the joy God offers:

"And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy." (Colossians 1:11)

"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy." (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)

"You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

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