Strength. Relative strength. Absolute strength. Godly strength. How do we determine what strength is and who has it? What does it mean to be strong for your age or strong for a woman? Strong in Christ is strong. There’s no male or female Christian strength. True strength has no gender. Our strength is forged over the years by finding our joy in the Lord.
Comparison weakens our joy.
Can we compare the strength of Corrie Ten Boom to the strength of Sojourner Truth? Or the strength of Madame Curie to the strength of Malala? Is Hannah stronger than Sarah? Is Mary the Mother of Christ stronger than Queen Esther? I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made comparisons that weaken my joy.
However, we can recover our sense of joy when we remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength. In other words, His joy, rooted in us, gives birth to a strong mindset. Cultivated by a Christ-prioritized life, our capacity for resilience (our strength) increases day by day and moment by moment.
Strength training our bodies brings physical benefits, but strength training our joy in the Lord has eternal significance. We strengthen our joy when we practice discerning the lessons hidden within life’s challenges. James tells us,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds... Philippians 1:2 NIV
Consider it pure joy
How can we consider life’s challenges as ‘pure joy?’ I don’t have this mastered. When my husband had a medical scare, it was not easy to consider it joy. We had to come to a place of gratitude for the years we’ve had together, the memories we’ve shared, and trust that God had more in store for us as a couple. All of that had to happen before finding the joy hidden in the trial. And this discovery gives us the strength to trust Him more. This type of strength, true strength, isn’t male or female. It’s divine empowerment from the Holy Spirit infused into our hearts. May we take time each day to pause, seek out the lesson in the struggle, and treasure the joy (no matter how small) within.
What was the last challenge you faced? Take time to ponder what lessons you gleaned from the trial you faced. Give God thanks and ask Him to restore your joy.
Heavenly Father, You are the Giver and Author of joy. Your joy empowers us. Infuse our hearts with the power of Your joy. May we, as Your children, be the most joy-filled people in our sphere of influence. And may the light of our joy shine a path that leads others directly to You. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.