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His Joy Is Our Strength One reason God may have for bringing joy after a season of sorrow is to bring a new wind of strength to our spirits. Grief and mourning rob us of our strength, both spiritually and physically.

But God knows that joy brings a new vitality and strength, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (see Neh. 8:10). Joy produces the kind of strength we need to move forward.

It is often very easy for us to believe that we cannot experience joy until we see this or that breakthrough in our children's lives. We can actually come to the place where we feel disqualified from a life of joy because of the burden we bear.

But quite honestly, that is a lie from Satan, who is the father of all lies. Satan knows that if he can prevent us from experiencing the joy of the Lord, he will keep us in a place of weakness and defeat.

Satan has a stake in keeping us separated from the joy of the Lord because it is linked with our strength. If we are sapped of strength, we will have difficulty in moving forward out of the hassles, anxieties and warfare we are in. Furthermore, we will not have the ability to receive the strategy we need to move into our next season.

As parents of special needs children, we are not disqualified from the joy of the Lord; we absolutely need His joy in order to remain in a place of strength for all that is required of us. God has promised us abundant life, part of which is joy.

Here are some of the disciplines that can help us maintain a joyful, abundant life:

Meditation. One of the ways that God has provided for our joy is contingent upon our willingness to take time to meditate on His Word. Why? Because if we just read God's Word without taking the time to give it thought, we deny ourselves the opportunity to receive personal revelation, refreshment and the promises He has for us and our children.

Prayer. Very simply, prayer is communicating with God. We will never advance in any aspect of our Christian lives without prayer. When we pray, the channels to God open--both ways. To neglect prayer is to neglect God Himself.

Fasting. For the Christian, fasting is essential. Often you cannot gain the revelation you need for your next step without it. Even Jesus agreed that some things simply could not be accomplished without fasting.

Fasting does not always have to mean food; it may mean other things we enjoy, such as television. But by choosing to give up something temporal in order to pursue something eternal, we make it possible for the Lord to reveal Himself more powerfully to us. And to the degree that we allow ourselves to hunger after God, to that degree we will be satisfied by Him and experience His joy.

Giving. It is the very heart of God. And it is linked with worship. We cannot come into all He has for us in our lives if we are unwilling to give because we cannot reap what we will not sow.

Warfare. Whether we like it or not, we are in a war between the power of darkness and the power of light. There are times when we must enter into warfare-style praying in order to gain the strategy we need to defeat the enemy in whatever battles we face.

Worship. This is the place where we can come into intimacy with God. Worship is a lifestyle of focusing our minds and hearts on God and all that He is. It is a response to all He has done for us, and it is essential to living in joy.

Work. Many times we can speak to the mountain and see it removed (see Matt. 21:21). But other times we have to dig through the mountain to get to the other side.

This is what I call spiritual work. Most parents of special needs children that I have met understand this and are great at working for their child's recovery.

Rest. It is so essential to regaining strength and, in this way, it is linked with joy. We need rest for several reasons:

1. Rest is a matter of obedience to God. He directed us to rest through the observance of the Sabbath.
2. Rest is an issue of trust in God. If we are at rest, God is going to have to "watch the stuff" for us as we regain our strength.
3. Rest is a factor in our physical well-being. God created rest for us to stop and meditate on Him.
4. Restful quietness is necessary for us to receive revelation and strategy for moving forward toward victory.

Destined to Overcome It is my prayer that you will allow the Lord to bless you with abundant life, great joy, and a fresh wind of strength that will carry you and your family through to victorious days ahead! To help you, my husband and I have created a Web site that sends out daily prayers and scriptural encouragement for parents, family and friends of children with special needs.

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