“Are you happy?” Laura timidly asks as she sits on her bed looking up at me. Abbie, sitting beside her, follows suit, “Daddy, are you happy?”
I had just expressed my great disapproval of their lack of obedience in picking up their toys like I had asked them to. I was upset, and I let them know it. Then, innocently, they drop the heaviest question on me—“Are you happy?” It was a simple enough question but there was something about it that stopped me in my tracks and caused me to re-evaluate myself. I had to ask myself, “Am I happy?” Not just with the girls right then and there—“Am . . .I . . .happy?” Is my life characterized by joy? Does the joy of the Lord fill my soul and overflow to those around me? Am I constantly, unwaveringly, happy? Or do circumstances regulate my joy level? Do I allow the disappointments and frustrations of life to smother the joy flame in my heart? Does sorrow and heartache characterize me more than joy?
Tucked away in the book of Nehemiah is a very powerful and poignant truth. “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10). You see, God’s joy should permeate our lives and characterize us regardless of external circumstances. When sorrow hits, when disappointment strikes, when failure rears its ugly head and tells us we’re no good, we’re worthless, the joy of the Lord is our strength, our rock. Because regardless of what this life throws at us, one thing will always remain constant—our hope in Him.
Habakkuk elaborates on Nehemiah’s declaration. He says, “Though the fig trees may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vine, though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the hills [though trouble strike, and strike hard]—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” What confidence and resolve! Why? Read on . . . “The Lord God is my strength. He will make my feet like deer’s feet and He will make me walk on my high hills” (3:17-19). Enough said!