Ireland: Joy is Your Strength

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.” -An Irish Blessing

There is far more to Ireland than Guinness, Saint Patrick’s Day and Leprechauns. The real people of Ireland are passionate, strong and joyful. They are a nation of overcomers! The pandemic has rocked the whole world, but it dealt a particularly hard blow to the heart of Ireland. The lockdowns came crashing in right before their most beloved holiday of the year: Saint Paddy’s Day! This is more than just an excuse to drink in the pubs, it is a day of joyful pride in their national heritage. It’s like Ireland’s equivalent of the 4th of July in America. While some Irish were afraid last March, many were outraged! Some even went out in the streets on Paddy’s Day anyway, refusing to let the lockdown dampen their spirits. The Irish people love their freedom!

Ireland is a nation that is incredibly dear to my heart. With my mother being a Quinn, I grew up proud of my Irish heritage and dreamed of going to Ireland someday. That someday came in May of 2018 and I fell in love with the Irish people. My friends there became my “Irish” family. It feels like my second home and I have been longing to go back ever since. I stay in contact with my Irish friends and I pray for them often. As I was getting ready for bed last Saturday night, I began to hear the Holy Spirit speak to me a word of encouragement for the people of Ireland. I was so excited that I typed out what I heard immediately, line by line. After praying for a few days, I believe I need to share this word from the Lord. Be encouraged my Irish friends and family! Jesus loves you and he is thinking about you!

On August 22, 2020 at 12:26 am PST (8:26 am in Ireland), I heard God say: “I have not forgotten about you. I have my loving eye on you. I long to wrap you in my arms and tenderly care for your wounds. I am your Good Shepherd. Trust me. Look to me for your provision. I AM all that you need. I will ‘wow’ you with my love. You are the emerald jewel in my crown. Let me gently polish you. You will sparkle like new and bring me great glory to the world. Just wait. Be patient. Your time of mourning is almost over. A new day is dawning! Can you see it? It’s just over the horizon. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11:28-29). Praise me! Praise me in the middle of the storm. Dance and jump for joy, for no one dances like you do!” What a beautiful word!

My Irish friends, God is calling you to dance and rejoice right now in your sorrows! What got you through English oppression, the Great Hunger and The Troubles? The joy of the Lord has been your strength! This joy will pull you through this pandemic as well! In the song “Garments of Praise,” Robin Mark sings,

Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness
Let the oil of gladness flow down from your throne
Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness
Your joy is my strength alone, my strength alone

Make these broken weary bones rise to dance again
Wet this dry and thirsty land with a river
Lord our eyes are fixed on you and we are waiting
For your garland of grace as we praise your name

Hallelujah, sing hallelujah
We give all honor and praise to your name

Hallelujah, sing hallelujah
We trade our sorrows for garments of praise

His joy is your strength! Trade in your mourning for the oil of joy and the spirit of despair for a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3)! How do you stir up this joy when the pubs and churches are closed? It’s time to go back to your roots! If you can’t go out, then gather your family in your home and dance! Sing and dance together! Bust out your instruments if you can play or find your favorite tunes on YouTube and blast your music! Encourage your children to sing and dance. Make fun videos and share them with all your friends and family! Have dance contests! You are some of the most joyful and creative people on the planet! Don’t let fear or uncertainty rob you of your joy any longer. Step into glorious joy and laugh until your sides hurt! God is ready to pour out so much joy you can’t contain it! Are you ready? Ask and you will receive, “for everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Get up and dance! Sláinte!

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