Written by: Kristi Lee
The joy of the LORD is my strength
- Nehemiah 8:10
I remember vividly claiming this verse as my favorite verse. Little did I know at that time that this would become my life motto. My saving grace and a theme throughout the longest valley I have ever endured.
I recall listening to testimonies of many Christian speakers over the years. I tried not to envy the way that God worked through them because I was terribly comfortable and fearful. I knew that in order to have such a testimony it would mean that I would have to go through a trial, storm, valley etc. One of the things that shook me to the core was hearing the following, “You are either going through a storm, coming out of one or heading into one.” It was as if the Spirit was trying to prepare me for the difficult season that was on the horizon for my family.
I always wanted to be able to memorize Scripture and have a great prayer life. God allowed this desire to prepare me for a such a time. The Scripture that I have memorized has been etched into my soul because it came to me in a time of great need. It was a lifeline that came to me in times of desperate need while in God’s Word. I shudder to think of what I would have missed if I had not been in God’s Word and I regret what I have missed by not being in His word nearly enough.
My prayer life has also been exercised. I have had many moments on my knees and on my face. I remember reading the Circle Maker and being ashamed at not having a need great enough to go in that circle. My prayer life has evolved from a place of requests to, “ Lord Your will be done.”
I will give you a few examples of Scripture and how God sent me His Word at the time I needed to hear from Him.
In 2010 I had a recurring dream of a lion. In every dream it got closer and closer to our family. The last time I had the dream it got inside our fence. I said to a friend of mine that I was going to Google the meaning of the lion. The very next morning I received an email from my Hearts for Christ email group. The first Scripture I memorized outside of Sunday School. 1 Peter 5:8 - Be alert, be sober-minded. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him standing firm in your faith.
I took notice and started to be more serious about my relationship with Christ. Every time this verse would pop up it would scare me. I felt like it was a warning.
Then in 2016 my two friends and I ended up at a Choral Festival. (God had us there for a reason.) It was here that I heard Levi Lusko speak on his book, Through the Eyes of a Lion. God had me hear many truths that day but one thing stood out above all. Levi stated that God created the lion with black under its eyes to see beyond what is right in front of it. To look beyond circumstances. For me that meant that any suffering here on earth would be worth the heavenly home I have waiting on me.
To think of God as the lion was also comforting. To know that God is in control of all things. He allowed this trial to come and it was my job to learn and grow from it.
As time passed I learned this verse that comes before 1 Peter 5:8. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” God cares for us so we can come to Him with anything. Just as any of my children could come to me for anything no matter how small or big. I care about it because I care about them. How much more does the Father care for us?
One day after having my children at the doctor office and having no insurance to pay for the visit, I was so very disheartened. I arrived in the parent pick-up line and picked up my Bible to read my daily Scripture while I waited for my children to be picked up. I called out to God through tears, “Lord help me have faith. Help me not to doubt.” It was September 21, and at time I was reading chapters that corresponded with the day of the month. So I opened to Matthew 21 and verses 21-22 stopped me and brought me to tears. “‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘IF you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what was done to the fig tree but even if you say to this mountain be lifted up and thrown into the sea it will happen. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’” And my prayer was answered shortly after. God provided.
Later when I received some world shattering, core shaking, terrible news God was my strength. I sat on my porch swing one morning and it was as if God sat beside me and whispered in my ear. “Do not look ahead. Choose joy in every day, be thankful every day.” My Scripture reading that day on 8/3/16 was Lamentations 3:23 - "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness."
God's Word has been my strength. You need a foundation for when you go through hard times. It’s too late to build a foundation once you are in the midst of your home being torn down.
I am done with the attacks by satan. I am tired. A lot! Every time I'm stressed and exhausted, I realize that I have been looking forward. That is not what God asked me to do. He said to not look ahead. I think of that day on the swing and I am reminded of His great mercies.
When our prayers were not answered in the way I pleaded with God they would be, my feelings were hurt. I was not angry with God but so heartbroken because I felt like He told me to believe and the prayer would be answered. I felt like I knew His answer would be deliverance.
Deliverance from the fire and not through the fire. And it will be, but it is all in God’s timing. I physically could not pick up the Bible. I had to remind myself of a quote I heard at youth camp one time, “Having faith is knowing that God is doing what you would do if you could see what God sees.”
Slowly I got back to my Bible reading. A great friend of mine gave me a new Bible. It took me a while to hear from God again. When I did He was clear. I understand that God needed for me to have faith that this would work out the way I wanted it to so that I could get through it. I had to have hope so I could face our circumstances with Joy everyday. I believe that God works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Our times of suffering can be used to encourage others. Our suffering is not for us. Prepare yourself for the trial that you may go through. Know Scripture, pray and trust God. He will see you though.
So, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Just like Nehemiah was building a wall, I am also building. I am building a family for Christ. I understand that this will be a tough journey but I know if I focus on the joy and blessings every day, one day God’s mercies will prevail. He will get the victory. I remember saying to a friend of mine, “I see myself giving my testimony when all of this over.” I am thrilled to be at a point where I can proclaim what God has done for us.
I’ll end with the last verse of 1 Peter 5:10: "And the God of all Grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
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