Have you ever watched the launch of a massive rocket from Cape Canaveral? I’m always amazed as this huge amount of weight gets lifted straight up – m talking 117 million pounds for the 2020 Mars missile – and hurled into outer space.

When the countdown reaches “one” and we see ignition fires explode at the base of the launch platform, I can hardly breathe until we see that rocket disappear into the clouds above. Clearly, I’m no rocket scientist, but even I can marvel at the amount of power it takes to lift millions of pounds straight up.

This past year has many of us feeling as if we’re dead weight sitting on the pad, waiting for someone to light a fire under us. We know the mission is out there somewhere; we’re all packed and ready, but lack the oomph to get started. We may know what we should do, even remembering what we used to do, but still we sit there unable to launch.

Take heart, believer. God says what you need is joy. He likened those massive powerful flames at lift-off to joy. Yes, the joy of the Lord is your strength, and he wants to propel you like a rocket into the coming year.

That doesn’t mean happy, for happiness implies all circumstances are good. Joy, on the other hand, comes from the Spirit of God dwelling in our inner man. Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace….” Christians can have joy in the midst of trials and even persecution. See James 1:2-3 and Luke 6:23. Joy comes from being filled with the Holy Ghost. “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:52). “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

Joy comes with the presence of the Lord. “You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever” (Psalm 16:11). But where do we find the presence of the Lord? Do we have to make a pilgrimage to some shrine? Must we search from church to church, meeting to meeting, to find his presence? No, because God dwells in the praises of his people, wherever they are. You can build a throne for him in the midst of chaos or even in a prison cell, because when you praise and worship him, he shows up.

Joy also comes when we remember what Jesus did for us. Job 33:26-27: “… when they pray, God will answer; they will worship God with joy; God will set things right for them again. Each one will say in public, ‘I have sinned. I have not done right, but God spared me’.” And in Psalm 89:16: “They find joy in your name all day long. They are joyful in your righteousness.” And Psalm 32:11: “You that are righteous, be glad and rejoice because of what the Lord has done. You that obey him, shout for joy!”

So if you are going into this new year with dread and trepidation, feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, remember that you are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, wherein ye greatly rejoice ….” (1 Peter 1:6).

Linda House is a member of New Life Worship Center.

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