The joy of the Lord is not feeling happy every minute of your life. In fact, if the Psalms are any indication, the people of God can and do go through many trials and tribulations. The gospel moves from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, and so do many times in our lives.
The joy of the Lord is not like a stainless steel box that makes you impervious to the storms of life. The joy of the Lord is more like the perfect life vest. It does not guarantee that you will never go under the water. In fact, sometimes you can even go down pretty far below the surface of the water. But the joy of the Lord is the presence of God with you, always bringing you back up, always bringing you back up into the light. Sometimes there is sin that needs to be dealt with, sometimes there are external circumstances to face, sometimes it is health related, and sometimes you don’t know why you feel down.
But know this: if you belong to Christ, then the joy of the Lord is not something you need to go find, or something you need to get back to, even if we sometimes experience it that way. No, when you became a Christian, the joy of the Lord found you. The joy of the Lord bound Himself to you, and now the joy of the Lord goes with you wherever you go. And when the storm clouds come in, when the waves go over your head, when you sink down into the dark, the joy of the Lord goes with you all the way down, and then it always lifts you back up, brings you back up into the light.
The joy of the Lord does not make you invincible to trouble and tribulation. The joy of the Lord is not a guarantee that you will always feel happy. The joy of the Lord is God’s powerful working in you, continuously drawing you to the light, carrying you through the waves, lifting you up when you are sinking, reminding you of His love, and finally taking you home to glory.
That is the joy of the Lord, and that is why the joy of the Lord is your strength.