“Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
The year that just finished has been a hard and heavy year for many of us. It has been a year full of struggles, uncertainty and things not going the way we would have hoped or expected. Plans got ripped up, rearranged and then changed again. There has been so much that has happened that may have robbed you of peace. The news has been so full of reports that may have stolen away your joy. But as we pray and fast we remember our joy does not come from our earthly circumstances or our material possessions. Our joy comes from knowing the love of our Father. Our joy comes from knowing He has saved us forever through the death of Jesus on the cross. Our joy comes from knowing we are upheld, eternally secure, in His mighty victorious hands.
As we pray and fast it may seem strange to focus on joy today. After all, you are probably fasting from many of the things that would usually give you joy and pleasure. But when we spend time drawing close to God, really intentionally pressing in to grow deeper in our relationship with Him, that is where we find true joy. As we spend time marveling in His presence, pondering on all that Jesus did for us on the cross, rejoicing in the fact that though He was in a place of majesty in heaven He was willing to humble Himself to come down to earth, to bear our sin and shame and suffer the indignity of death on a cross in our place so that we could be forgiven, then we will find that our joy is restored. Nothing that the year behind us threw at us or that the year ahead has in store for us can compete with that. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. That is the solid rock our joy in anchored in.
As you pray today, ask the Holy Spirit to restore your joy. Ask for opportunities to let your joy be shown to those around you as a way to point them to the hope we have in Jesus.