“The joy of the Lord is my strength” is a phrase we often hear, but what does it mean, really? Let’s take a deeper look at the context of Nehemiah 8:10 and discover what this phrase means for us as Christians today.
Ever feel like your strength is running out? I have. Some days, it’s all too easy to evaluate my current level of strength and measure it against the days ahead. I even struggle with doubt at times, and wonder how I am going to make it through that day, let alone all the days in the future.
“The joy of the lord is my strength” verse
Where does the phrase “the joy of the Lord is my strength” come from? This bible verse is found in Nehemiah 8, where Ezra the scribe reads the words of God’s law to the people. They stand in reverence for hours as God’s word is read, and as they understand it, begin weeping.
For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
When we feel sorrow – whether it be realization of sin or because of difficult circumstances – we often wonder where our strength is going to come from. But it is vital to remember: the joy of the Lord is my strength.
But what is ‘the joy of the Lord’?
We cannot conjure up this type of joy within ourselves, by our own power. It has to come from one source only – the Lord.
Thank goodness it’s not our human joy – it’s the joy of the Lord. Put another way, it’s the joy God has, or possesses.
Can you even begin to imagine the amount of joy God has?
What’s even more amazing is that God’s joy centers around us. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (a relationship with us). And Zephaniah 3:17 says that God rejoices over us with singing!
Have you ever thought about the fact that being in a relationship with you makes God happy? Knowing that God feels this way about you should spark the flame of joy within you, too!
As Christians, we have access to God’s boundless joy, a joy that does not come from our circumstances or within ourselves. It does not depend on how strong or spiritual we are.
This joy comes from God alone, and the relationship we have with Him.
This realization also enabled the apostle Paul. Here’s a sermon clip from my husband about how God’s strength enabled him:
A specific place we can find God’s joy
You may be asking, “But how can I access God’s joy in my life?”
We have an example from Nehemiah 8. As Nehemiah read the words of the Law, the people wept and mourned because they were not obeying the law. But Ezra comforts them, telling them not to weep because the joy of the Lord is their strength.
Their joy was realized because, even though a knowledge of the truth caused sorrow (repentance), it also gave them direction. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Changing their lives and following God’s ways gave them a deeper joy than they could have attained on their own.
It’s the same for us – when we study and know the truth within the pages of the Bible, we have the joy of the Lord!
Jesus said this as well in John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
If you want to learn the truth of what the Bible says on a deeper level, or if you feel like you don’t know the bible well, sign up for World Bible School’s free online courses – they’re excellent.
Accessing the Joy of the Lord in times of weakness
After we’ve studied and embraced the word of God in our lives, we still need to put it into practice to experience the benefits. We need to access the power of God’s joy in our everyday lives.
Only God knows what we are truly capable of in His power. But many days, the words of Light the Fire feel all too true, “My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak!”
Here’s an example of this in my life:
Recently, we traveled 16+ hours for Thanksgiving and a ministry tryout. Already tired and with two toddlers in tow, I got food poisoning on the way home. It. Was. Bad. It was all we could do to make it home, and I didn’t move out of bed the rest of the day.
The next morning, I awoke feeling so much better! I got it in my mind that I had to catch up on everything I couldn’t do while I was sick – laundry, cleaning, etc. My sweet (and wise) husband tried to tell me to slow down, that I had just been horribly sick the previous day. I said nah, I was fine. That is, until that evening.
When I get overly tired, it’s easy for me to let my mind go in circles and not be able to sleep. Such was the case last night. I got to sleep super late, and all day I’ve been paying for pushing myself yesterday.
Here’s an excerpt from my prayer journal that day:
I am told by You [God] to rejoice despite my circumstances, not be anxious, bring every thought into captivity to Christ, etc. You wouldn’t tell me to do it if it was impossible. Why do I find it so much harder when I’m tired? I know Satan came to tempt Jesus when He was physically weak. Jesus answered him by quoting Scripture….
This [spiritual struggle] seems to happen when I am exhausted. Since I feel weak, I question whether I have the ability to win the victory. I have temptations on good days too, but they don’t affect me as much because I feel physically strong.
Is it just me, or are spiritual battles harder to fight when you’re tired? I need to access the joy of the Lord on days like this.
5 Ways to Let God be Your Strength
What is the key to accessing God’s strength in our weakness? I’m still trying to figure it out. But here’s what I’ve learned so far.
1. Meditate on Scripture.
This goes back to how the people responded to God’s Law in Nehemiah 8. They let God’s words penetrate deep down in their souls, where it could change them.
When you’re studying, don’t just read or say the words – think about what they mean. Go deeper. Keep a specific verse in mind for the day and dwell on it. For example, think, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” whenever you struggle or face temptation.
For an in-depth study method for spiritual warfare, read How to Grow Spiritually When You Don’t Feel Close to God.
2. Look for God everywhere.
Count all the gifts He’s given you, all day long. Try to find him in the ordinary. This practice will increase your joy exponentially, because you will start to see all the ways God cares for you.
The more I focus on God, the more I realize He is worthy of my trust and able to take care of it all. Isaiah 26:3 is one of my favorite Scriptures: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
3. Pray constantly.
Every time you face a difficulty, ask God how to deal with it. Keep a conversation with Him going all day long. Talk to Him about how you’re feeling. He’ll help you face it!
To dive deeper in your prayer life, read my Ultimate Guide to Prayer Journaling.
4. Let go.
Finding joy in God means letting Him take control of your life.
I used to get so annoyed when I would hear the phrase “Let go”, because I didn’t know how to implement it. I’m still learning. But today I found this really cool “definition” of letting go by Suzie Eller:
Letting go is giving up what is beyond your control to embrace what you can change.
She goes on to say, “We can’t control the words that once shaped our hearts, but we can replace them with truth from Scripture.” Wow.
There are certain things in life that cannot be changed, no matter how hard you try. In these situations, we must remember 1 Peter 5:6-7 “…humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Cast these cares on Him in prayer, and do your best to leave it with Him.
After that, do what you can. This totally reminds me of the popular “Serenity Prayer.”
This leads me to the last point…
5. Do the next thing.
Whatever part of your life you can control and change, purpose to do something about it. Use the strength and talents God has given you to better your situation, and leave the rest to God.
In my case, it’s being more proactive in taking care of myself. I can go to bed earlier, eat more healthy foods, and exercise more – these will all help strengthen my physical temple for those future battles that are to come! “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
The key when I am physically, mentally, or emotionally drained? The joy of the Lord is my strength – even when I feel weak, sad, or my circumstances are difficult.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
22 Bible Verses About the Joy of the Lord is My Strength
Aside from the verses already listed, there are a bunch more in Scripture which encourage us to find our joy in God! Here are some of the best verses about the joy of the Lord and making Him our strength.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” – Psalm 28:7
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2
“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
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.” – Psalm 28:7-8
“God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” – Habakkuk 3:19
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” – Galatians 5:22
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11
“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
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24
“Of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” – Psalm 27:1
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” – Psalm 4:7
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…” – Psalm 30:11
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” – Psalm 94:19
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” – Psalm 5:11
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…” – 1 Peter 1:8
“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5
WHAT DOES “THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH” MEAN TO YOU? I NEED TO HEAR YOUR WISDOM!
Rachel Korsten says
Mary this is so, so true! I think this is the main reason why life with littles is so very hard – it’s so often near impossible to be positive when you’re tired. I always feel like I can handle everything so much better when I’ve had a full nights sleep (an unusual occurance!). Thank you for your suggestions, I’m really going to try to implement them.
[email protected] says
Thanks for your kind words, Rachel! I miss you! Let’s Skype soon!
Thanks for sharing this with us . I found it really helpful.
Ginger Johnson says
Mary I needed to read this so much. I’m going through my own personal battle the last few months. I had/have prayed for guidance. So when we got back home from Thanksgiving that night it hit me. At first I looked at it to be how stupid I was For not realizing it. ( how to handle this). But the more I thought about it God was answering the prayer “now” about it. Not when I thought it should have been answers months before. It helped too, to have about 4hrs ( after Terry) went to sleep while I was driving back home in the rain to think and pray.
I hope this makes sense. I can talk about it before that type it. Love You!! Thanks for your guidance
[email protected] says
Ginger, I wrote it because I needed it! I even felt like I was truly struggling to implement the words I had written. We all fight battles that we feel too weak to win. I often forget that while I’m too weak, God is not! He’s bigger than any problem! I have to remind myself of this daily. Thank you for your words, and thank you for reading.
I am grappling with health issues, when I “stumbled” upon this post. Equipped for the years long battle Ive been on. Grateful for you sister.
My heart goes out to you Erica. I have also dealt with my share of health issues and it’s not for the faint of heart. Prayers for strength to you!
Thank you Mary. So clearly explained. Praise God for his timly reminders of truth and wisdom.
Thank you for reading Meg, God bless.
Mugisha Robert says
Thank you Mary for this insightful revelation of God’s wonderful word. Its been spiritual knowledge I needed based on God’s word.
Stay well, stay blessed
Thanks for reading, God bless
Renee Sanghera says
Hello Mary; I googled Nehemiah 8:10, and your post from 2015 was on the first screen. I’ve just read your post and will take it to heart. We are all in SIP with this virus, and seeking God’s message for this time. My church life group meets on Zoom, as it seems the best way to stay connected with people. Ezra’s message to the Israelites is so encouraging. Praying for revival all over this earth. May we use the technology that exists in this time to lean on each other, and in humble communion cry out to Jesus. In Jesus name, amen.
Amen Renee! May God bless you richly.
Blessy J says
I actually didn’t really know what is the Joy of Our Lord all these years, because we always think about how God is making us joyful and happy…We don’t recognize if we are making Him joyful and that it turns to be our strength. I was told by my best friend to write a story on this and I googled it….Here I am finding the answer…I’ve been down lately…But I realize that I need to make God happy by having a continuous relationship with Him. These words didn’t just give me an idea for my story but it gave me answer what I’m struggling…God works in wonderful ways…Thank You Mary !!!
Love From India !!!
I am so happy this encouraged you today! God is so good!
Be blessed Mary,I have heard this verse “the joy of the Lord is our strength”from many preachers ,till now I realize that it is my daily relationship with God I need to keep gear in all circumstances.
God bless you too Sophie! He is so good!
Hi Mary, I, like some of your other readers, also googled Nehemiah 8 and what does the joy of the Lord is my strength mean.
It’s a nice phrase, but what does it mean? Dealing with Covid 19 in Kenya, isolated from my family in South Africa, has been incredibly hard and I have found my thankfulness, attitude and gratefulness start to altogether disappear. Covid has taken away so much from all of us, job security, finances, friends, families, lives, freedom, dreams, travel plans and so much more, but mostly for me, my joy.
I would describe myself as someone who has a lot of joy and yet recently I have been feeling and seeing a LOT less of it. I am complacent, ungrateful, grumpy, cold and sometimes just plain rude.
And yet my God, my Jesus has not changed, so where is the joy of the Lord? I felt the phrase, the joy of the Lord is my strength impressed on my heart recently and decided to read up on it a little bit. And I think there are a lot of lessons we can learn from this piece of scripture, especially during Covid 19.
1. Our security is in our Heavenly Father not on circumstances
2. This is temporary, especially for those who love and serve Jesus
3. The joy of the Lord is attainable to us
4. Praise, continue to praise
5. Pray, always pray, I love how you worded it, continue the conversation
6. Help those that you can
7. Love, be gracious, be kind to those around you
I am not saying we plaster a smile on our faces and carry on with life, but we realize the more authenticity we need right now, and as Christians that can indeed look like pure and real joy not circumstance depending.
Thank you for sharing your page and your kind words.
Wow!! This comment is a blog post in itself. So much wisdom here. Yes I agree, in difficult situations that joy feels harder to obtain. That’s why it’s such a relief to know that God is our source of joy, it’s not within ourselves to conjure up. May God bless you Megs.
GOD bless you Mary for sharing this beautiful truth that set us free❤️❤️❤️Knowing GOD and His Words through our intimate relationship with JESUS Christ is the source of a joyful life where true love and peace exist for us to be able to live a life that our Father GOD has planned since the beginning and for us to really know how we are loved by our Almighty Father gives us complete peace and confidence each day because ….”This is the day that the LORD has made and we shall rejoice and be glad in it.” Whatever happens each day GOD is with us and will never leave us nor forsake us – areal joy indeed!!!!
Thank you for your beautiful encouraging words!! Yes God is so good!!
Daya P Denni says
I came across this verse today in Pinterest. But I have always misunderstood it as ‘joy in the Lord’, like our happiness ‘in’ Christ. But today, suddenly this meaning struck me. So I wanted make sure of it before I believed it completely. I typed in the Internet, and I am glad I found this. Thank you Jesus for reminding your love for me. God bless you sister!Love from India.
Thank you for your comments, may God bless you!
Hi Mary, I’m filled with an array of emotions and crying as I’m writing this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It’s hard to reconcile feeling so close to the Lord and then finding yourself in the pit of depression. Trying to figure out how I got to this place. Thank you for addressing rest, diet, and exercise. I going to climb out from hiding under the blanket of despair and go for a walk and marvel at God’s creation. God Bless you my Sister! 🕊️
Your message made my day! I do understand how you feel. Depression is not a sign of spiritual weakness. Keep looking up and taking care of your body, sister! Blessings to you!
Miss Smith says
Lord take care of my friend in every way please. In Your word you said that your power shines in our weakness. Please replace her depression with Your joy Lord please. Heal her brain, mind, heart and body in the name of Jesus please. Holy Spirit comfort her with Your power, strength, love and self control/sound mind from within. An inside job that she is blessed with. The peace and love of Jesus that surpasses all understanding. The grace of the Father to keep going and suffice no matter what. Amen! Love to my friend, the joy of the Lord be Your strength.
Hi Mary, thanks soooo much for sharing such an incredible and inspiring message even I just read partially. My heart is crying. I feel very sorry even I can’t help and take care of others what I should do. I do really need how to be positive and be nurturing my soul from God at this fragile period especially during the midst of COVID-19. As a mother with a 8-year-old daughter, I think I should be strong to support my family. I feel sooo scared what’s going wrong in my country. Even I saw the news when the confirmed cases keep increasing globally , the class suspension again and again and everyone just stay at home over a few months. I found it’s soooo many changes and lots of challenging circumstances in HK. I am lost! It’s not easy to deal with that and I realized how tough we are facing. I am struck what I am struggling and stressed.
I understand, this has been such a difficult time for so many. Keep studying and praying, dig into the Word if God and He will carry you through! Blessings!
I Google “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and it brought me to this site. Thank you so much Mary for your message. For me today is the day that the Lord has made and I will be glad and rejoice in it.
Thank you Edith and God bless you!!
Thanks for the message and I hope that I can access the Lord’s joy and peace in my life.
May God bless you.
Elizabeth Smith says
Thank you for this message. I now have a better understanding of the joy of the Lord is your strength. I have not felt joyous recently due the my husband and and myself each breaking bones, an arm and a leg. We have had to be in casts and staying put. I also developed a ringing in my ear when I fell.
But I know my God is greater than all of these things and I am regaining my joy. It help to that the joy of Lord comes from Him,
so it is more powerful human joy. There is no one like our God. Feeling the joy come back to me day by day.
Blessings to you Elizabeth, and prayers for healing!!
HUW THOMAS says
It would be accurate and helpful if you were to differentiate between the regenerate and the unregenerate. Suggesting the unregenerate have access to the joy which is the portion of the saints is an outright lie and leads to destructive confusion.
“There is no peace unto the wicked”. When peace is absent, so is joy.
Thank you, Mary! Was listening to a Christian radio station (KCBI) in the Dallas area this morning that was playing great worship songs (with which I was singing and worshipping along)interspersed with callers sharing gratitude when one radio host named Rebecca declared, “‘The joy of the Lord is my strength.'” Decided to dig deeper so I Googled this quote and found your rich blog post and all the wonderful comments. May the Lord fill us all with his joy and strength as we study his word here and in the Bible and pray to him without ceasing!! God bless you, Mary, and everyone who comes here seeking and sharing!
Thank you so much for your kind words Susan! May God bless You!
Theresea T Randolph says
Thanks Mary for allowing the Spirit of God use you in such a time as this. many during the holidays will need this encouragement, and gain the understanding about the joy of the Lord IS our Strength!
The adjustment of our attitude will help us in the hour of our greatest need:
How to have joy in our troubled times.
How to allow our Father to be strong for us, and
allow us to be able to Rejoice, always rejoice!!!
May the joy of the lord overflow in your life as a testimony to His Word.
Thank you for your kind encouragements to me. I truly want to re focus on the joy of the Lord!
Thanks very much for your block, and Yes I have taken a stand today to have the joy of the Lord as my streng. Being the only born again christian in my family with four adult sons who are not working is so overwhelming. As I am writing my third son is not home; I don’t know where he is and what is he doing. Another thing is that covid 19 is still rife. However, thanks that amid the situation the joy of the Lord is my strength. I’ll keep meditating this scripture throughout my life, because the devil use situations such as mine to make us sad. Today I’ve put sadness under my feet.Thank you.
Praying for you during this difficult time. May God bless you in every way as you seek Him!
Celia – I am praying for you and your son. May he be protected and may God win the battle. I am not a birth mother, but raised my much younger sister and she considers me her mom (seester-mom) but our real mom is bipolar and older sister has her own family. My youngest sister has been through so many terrible things I can’t even begin. My heart was broken and fearful many times, but I prayed God would win the battle. Its not perfect for us, in fact we struggle a lot, but God is winning. We can’t explain why some have it worse (I know everyone goes through things but life is definitely not even playing grounds. May God lsy hid hands upon you and lead your son to him-his true father!
I, too, googled “The joy of the Lord is my strength” and it brought me to your post! So appropriate, as I believe that this is the Scripture God has given me for 2021. Thankyou so much for your insight……
Be blessed in 2021, as you have been such a blessing to so many of us 🙂
So glad you found it Sandy! May God bless you this year and always!
Hi I found your website this morning. What a blessing it was for me to find these encouraging words. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Thank you for sharing. You will have make that phase more clear for me in your teaching. I am going through some hard times now physical issues but God is being gracious and faithful. Thank you again for the word. I pray that God continue to bless you and guide you to do His will.
I came across this. After reading I blessed you and felt led to pray for you…
Thank you so much!
Rose G says
Mary, Thanks so much for your words. In live in Texas, and we really need the Joy of the Lord to be our strength. Added to COVID-19 we are experiencing the worst winter weather in a long time. But I have been truly encouraged and strengthened after reading your word. May the Lord continue to bless you, your family and your ministry.
Rose, I am so happy this encouraged you today. God’s Word is so powerful! We are praying for all who are struggling in Texas right now, I know it has been so difficult for so many. ❤️
Thanks for sharing this with us. I feel like it was sort of meant for me today because it’s been wild mental battles recently. Still learning how to submit to the Word when the rest of my body is going through the opposite of what it’s supposed to be feeling.
Bless you! You did bless my heart
Thank you, I am so happy this was a blessing to you.
So, I consider myself still a baby Christian (saved almost 4 years now!) and am at a point I feel like I am unlocking so many “keys” in my walk it’s beautiful. I texted an old friend yesterday letting her know I was praying for her and she told me of a funeral she was going to and was having a hard time. I told her I would pray for her strength during this time of weakness and she said .. “the joy of the Lord is my strength, so pray that I have joy.” Wow. I’ve heard the verse before but to pray for joy instead of strength never occurred to me. For myself to focus on joy instead of trying to be so strong never occurred to me. Naturally I did what a good Christian does and googled my newfound question haha thank you for you post, God is still using it 6 years later ❤️ that in itself shows me another “key”. Thank you beautiful sister in Christ!
Wow these are beautiful thoughts! Thank you for sharing!
Elizabeth Matte says
Thank you for your invite into the joy of the Lord.
The last two year the Lord keeps reminding me of the verse
Count it ALL joy when you fall into various trials for they produce patience and patience must finish its work so we can be perfect in every way. My paraphrase.
God allows trials to grow patience in us.
Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Ability to endure difficult circumstances.
Are we leaning on God to help us do this, dying to our selves and what we want to become MORE like CHRIST?
Also I have gleaned from your wirsmds these truths….
Reading the word continually.
Thankfulness for our blessings.
This is the day the Lord had made:let US rejoice and be glad in it!
Let us allow ourselves to be glad each day and rejoice in the day the Lord has made.
Be renewed in your mind.
Let us ask God to help us See life through HIS perspective!:)
Love your encouraging words Mary.
God bless you all.
Thank you for sharing all this! May God bless you!
Ricardo L. Dean Sr. says
Thank you Mary, you are definitely on point. In our own strength we cant do anything, but with the strength of God’s joy we can do all things.
Amen to you all. Today is the day. Find someone and let the know.