Just this week I watched Little Women again. Oh, I love that movie! I’m all in with the emotions – especially at moments such as when Amy falls into the frozen lake while ice skating. Her sister, Meg had been angry with her and left her to lag behind while she and Laurie skated. Then hearing her screams, followed by the terrifying silence, she and Laurie race to give her a stick so they might rescue her. Thin ice is risky.
But thin ice isn’t relegated only to winter lakes.
Thin ice can also describe a person who falls in because their hopes are dashed. They become despondent because things aren’t going like they dreamed. They can be truly legitimate hopes – like prolonged life of a loved one, the healing of an illness, the continuance of things “as they are.” We “hope” for those things, but they are not the eternal reality in anyone’s life. Eventually, we all face the trials that force us to come to terms with deep sorrows. But we all have a choice how we will do it.
For the believer, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are reminded that trials will come to this life. Things change. Life ends. Hard things hit us, and I think it can be even doubly so during the holidays. Because we set ourselves up to expect certain scenarios, we fall into icy despondency when those things aren’t realized.
In recent days, I found myself “at the edge of the cracked ice.” So many around me are experiencing hard things. I have wanted to rescue them, as Meg and Laurie rescued Amy, but my own footing wasn’t secure until the Lord brought me to Nehemiah 8.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
This joy the Lord spoken of here is not the joy of the Lord over Israel; but Israel’s joy in her Lord. There was a great feast going on and it was based on her confidence that the Lord ever protects her. .Joy in the Lord is in proportion to the faith of the protection which He gives.
Though that was written to Israel, we can also say that the joy of the Lord is also our strength. Just as they heard the Word and were encouraged by truth, we can be, too! We don’t rejoice in the trials themselves, but in the reminder that the Lord is also protecting us. Even while there is pain and hardship, this is as bad as it will ever get for the child of God! One Day all this will be behind us and we will look from eternity’s vantage point back to this life.
It will appear so small –
so short in comparison to eternity with our Lord.
Ezra told Israel not to lament over their sin, but to know and have faith in the truth. That’s what I must preach to myself when my heart gets down. My Savior is greater than my trouble. He is loving and caring for every need of my life. He is aware. He utters my name at the Throne of Grace! If you’re a child of God, these truths are yours, too.
The joy of the Lord is your strength in a season of sorrow. He is your focus. He is where your thoughts land. Then you know what happens? The sorrow turns to joy. The hope we have in Christ is like a warm blanket. We still see the hardship, but we’re comforted by His truth and His care that changes everything.
Let me end by encouraging you with a few practical things you can do to wrap yourself up in the comfort of the hope in Christ.
- Turn on uplifting music that will allow you to think about your great God!
- Listen to the Scripture on your phone while you’re going to sleep.
- Play an encouraging podcast that will point your heart to the Word of God.
If you’re feeling saddened by difficult things around you, I pray that your heart will be warmed by remembering that the joy of the Lord is your strength. In Him there are endless reasons to rejoice! Jesus is always the comfort that we need.