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Faith Imagined: God is Your Starbucks

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

October 4, 2009

God is Your Starbucks







Recently, a blogging friend asked me if I understood the verse “. . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8.10b NIV). Her question sparked my interest because I had made a vow at the beginning of 2009 that I would dedicate this year to understanding and gaining joy.

However, this particular verse always appeared backward. It seemed to me that it should read “The strength of the LORD is your joy.” How could God’s joy be our strength? Where can we find God’s joy?

To answer this question, I had to look at this verse in the context of the Bible. This verse was stated by Nehemiah (445 B.C.), an Old Testament prophet. He was sent by God to help the Israelites rebuild their lives. The Israelites had just experienced great amounts of devastation at the hands of other nations. They suffered through starvation, displacement and slaughter. In fact, when Nehemiah came on the scene, only a few survivors were left.

The remaining remnant made their way back to the promise land, but they were disgraced and harassed by other nations. Their homeland was in ruins, and the city wall that protected them was consumed by fire. The lives of the people were in shambles, and all that was left to do was rebuild from the mess. Needless to say, there was very little joy during this bleak time.

Against all odds, the nation began to rebuild itself. There wasn’t enough man-power or money, enthusiasm was low, bordering cities tried to sabotage the reconstruction and there were many disputes among the people themselves; but, somehow, the wall was built in record time and the towns within the walls were restored.

Before the people went back to their villages to start their new lives, Nehemiah told them, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” But where do we find God’s joy? It is hard to gain strength from something that we do not see.

The amazing truth is that God’s joy was actually recorded approximately 250 years before the nation rebuilt itself. The prophet Isaiah (700 B.C.) foretells the fall and restoration of the Israelite nation. Isaiah records God’s attitude toward the nation rebuilding itself. And what is God’s attitude? It’s joyful: “Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones (Isaiah 49.13 NIV).

God is shouting for joy. God is telling both the heavens and the earth to rejoice. God is eager to offer compassion and comfort to the afflicted remnant, and He is rooting for His people to succeed at rebuilding their lives.

What does this mean for you and me? It means that God is our cheering section. Life is hard and bad things happen – houses are foreclosed, families are broken, health is compromised and lives are lost; but we gain strength to move on because God finds joy in our lives. He wants us to rebuild from the ashes and start again. With God on our side, we can accomplish anything.

Are you nervous about going back to school? Are you apprehensive about dating again? Are you scared to start that new business? Are you concerned about a health issue? Are you struggling with an addiction? Are you consumed by self-doubt and worry? Don’t be! God is cheering for you to succeed. He wants you to make those tough decisions that push you outside of your comfort zone. It will be hard at first, but you will find strength in God’s joy for you. He wants you to rebuild and thrive!

*Hank from the Starbucks commercial represents you and me. The people around Hank cheering Him on represent God. He is yelling out your name in encouragement! He is shouting for excitement that you exist! His joy for you is overflowing! This joy should strengthen you to live the full life that He created for you. You can accomplish all that God has in mind. This commercial doesn't even come close to fully illustrating the joy God finds in you. Watch the video again and know that God and all the heavens are your cheering section!

This post is dedicated to Crystal!

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22 Comments:

Blogger OceanDreams said...

Oh I loved this post, you are always so encouraging and you give the best examples, thank you for that! I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Sunday.

Thanks for your compliment on my new blog layout! :)

2:39 PM  
Blogger Deborah Ann said...

I love how you went from Starbucks to God. Seems I always need reminders that God's cheering for me. Another home run for Alisa!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I think this sentence you wrote sums it up nicely...

"With God on our side, we can accomplish anything."

Thanks for the inspiring post!

5:38 PM  
Blogger Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

This post just really spoke to my heart tonight. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I am going to pray that verse over my daughter, Melissa who is in Africa.

She is really battling with what she is supposed to do with her life and I am going to pray that the JOY of the Lord be her strength.

Love to you !

8:40 PM  
Blogger Crissy said...

I love that commercial and how you used it in this post! I can totally see God cheering me on now!

10:53 PM  
Blogger Hippie4ever said...

Beautiful post! It will be bookmarked in my inspiration file. Thank you for letting God speak through you.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Hippie4ever said...

You know I hadn't watched the video before posting and I just had to add ...that it is beautiful to see God in everything. God tells us to speak of him when we are walking, sitting, working...I don't think I ever would have seen God cheering me on in this video...till you mentioned it. Nice image. Thanks.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Alisa - once again you have blown me away with how God uses you to translate his Word into an applicable message for us today. I absolutely LOVE the analogy of that Starbucks commercial and God cheering us on through our lives - wanting us to succeed. If God is for us, who can be against us? :) Thank you for this post.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Melissa Miller said...

How inspiring and beautiful Alisa!

Many Blessings and Happy Fall!
~Melissa :)

3:55 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

This post is exactly what I needed to hear right now.

And it goes along with the bible study I am currently doing.

Hmm...I wonder if God is trying to tell me something? ;)

3:47 AM  
Blogger ~*Michelle*~ said...

Now *this* was exactly what I needed to read/watch this morning.....I love how God led me here first today.

I love how you see (and seek) God in all things...my kinda gal!

You rock!

HEY!

xox
*~Michelle~*

5:52 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Good thoughts. It's always good to go back to Scripture and get all the pieces to what God is trying to say. :O)

12:08 PM  
Blogger Morgan said...

You are on a topic that is close to what I've been struggling off and on with the past week. God has a plan and wants us to have joy in trusting Him. Other voices try to convince us not to trust Him.

His joy is overflowing in us- I like that : )

2:34 PM  
Blogger thatdesigngal said...

Thank you soo soo much! I really needed to hear this. I am falling into that cateorgy of the self-doubt and worry. I will have to read this a few times.

You know, I have needed to tell you that I found your "worry" post back from last year. I have been struggling with this and I was pretty happy to find that you have written something about it. It really touched me, and I cried pretty hard. Nailed it on the head. Thank you so much for all that you do, I get so much from your posts!

Thank you for the birthday wishes!
~Mary

9:45 PM  
Blogger Christian Mommy Writer said...

That clip was interesting. I've never seen that one before. I liked this post. If God be for us, who can be against us?

10:44 PM  
Blogger Triumphant Victorious Reminders Copyright © 2009 said...

Praise God!! Wow! I love it! I love the definition of joy in the greek:
A person being tied up, bound, lying on the ground as a boulder is being placed upon them slowly crushing them to death!
The joy of the Lord is present in the midst of great pain!
Happiness is determined by our 'good'circumstances. However, with joy it doesn't matter what the circumstances may present, through God's joy He provides great strength to get through it! Wooooooo!!!!!!!!!

Love ya girl! Teresa

8:30 AM  
Blogger Midday Escapades said...

How did you know to post this for me??? I really do want God to be my Starbucks. Right now, I just can't seem to get there. I'm still reaching out for the physical Starbucks drink.

I appreciate this post and I can't wait for your guest post at my site so others can benefit, too.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

What a wonderful post! I truly loved the video, but your words absolutely sing.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Lacey said...

Pop on over to my blog. I have an award for you:)

12:06 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

That verse makes me think of this song.
Thank you for visiting fottsp.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Hi Alisa,

I just came across your blog and I'm so glad I did. You are such a lovely writer. I really enjoyed this post and it's a wonderful reminder to all of us about what God wants for us and how much he loves us, thank you! =)

Many Blessings to you,

Liz

4:42 AM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

I love this post and the video. They fit so beautifully together.

9:23 AM  

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