February 26, 2017

The Grammar of Joy by Marnie Pohlmann

English grammar can be complicated. I am no expert on grammar. I have probably forgotten much of what I learned in high school, or maybe I didn't pay attention in the first place.

However, I am presently doing a study with friends on "The fear of the Lord" that has led me on a rabbit trail of researching grammar. Researching, specifically, prepositions and prepositional phrases.

My simple understanding is that a preposition modifies the subject of the sentence to define the relationship between the subject and the object of the sentence. The preposition "of" indicates a part of the whole.

When this month's prompt suggestion was the joy of writing, I was reminded of the prepositional phrase in Nehemiah 8:10.

Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 NASV

"Of the Lord" is a prepositional phrase.
"Joy" is the subject modified by "of the Lord."
This is not my joy, this is God's joy.
Joy is an attribute of God.
             "Joy of the Lord" is part of the object "your strength." 
             God's joy is our strength.
             Strength not to grieve.
             Strength to celebrate.
             Strength to share.
             Strength to worship.

In the context of this verse, the Priest read the Laws of Moses to the Israelite people. The community leaders helped to teach what the laws meant. The people were grieved when they heard the Words of God. However, the purpose of the reading was not to grieve the people but to cause them to celebrate, to motivate them towards service of others, to give them strength. Hearing and reading Scripture gives us the joy of the Lord.

The Joy of the Lord is the kind of joy I want for my writing.
             Joy-of-the-Lord-writing is modified by my relationship with God.
             This writing is not simply for me but is for God's purposes.
             This joy of writing shows God.
                           Joy-of-the-Lord-writing is strengthened by God.
                           Strength not to be grieved by writing disappointments.
                           Strength to celebrate successes.
                           Strength to share the writing.

I believe the Psalmist, David, reflects this joy of the Lord in his writing. No matter how often David begins a song or poem describing struggles in his circumstances, his self-confidence, or his heart, he does not stay in the grief. His focus moves to God, to God's promises, and to God's faithfulness. This leads David to experience the joy of the Lord. He is strengthened. David is then able to praise God; to celebrate, to serve, and to share his writing.

How encouraging to me as a writer! As I read Scripture and journal my struggles, my thoughts begin to make sense. In my writing, I do not need to stay in grief but can change my focus to God. Joy is found in the writing. My writing is influenced by the joy of the Lord, and when it is, I am strengthened.

My joy of writing
     is found in 
          the joy of the Lord.

*photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Marnie Pohlmann writes from the beautiful northern town of Taylor, BC. Read how the joy of the Lord influences her life and writing at her blog, Phosphorescent.


  1. What a wonderful description of the joy of the Lord! Thank you for breaking it down in such a clear way. Once again, a moving post. Thanks, Marnie.

    1. This understanding of joy is helping me change my "glass half empty" outlook to accepting God's joy along with His peace. Writing it down helps me make sense of joy.

  2. You are not only a writer, but you have a gift for teaching. Complex topics become avenues to show God as you break them down so skillfully. (Ehem... and when is that book ever going to happen?)

    1. I'm not sure about the teaching - but writing helps me learn! (haha - thinking about it!)

  3. Hi Marnie! Thank you for the lesson and inspiring message for readers to embrace. I agree with Tracy. You are a writer and a teacher!

    1. Thanks, Alan. Only a teacher if an expert in grammar doesn't correct me on this post. LOL

  4. Thanks Marnie. I struggle with grammar. You used the word "joy" many times - I think it was 18 times. In my struggle with grammar, I'll remind myself to try and find "joy" in it. Grammar sure looks different when someone shows it in a different light. You sum it up best at the end!

    1. Don't we all struggle with grammar in one way or another? As we also struggle with joy in the hard times. Looking less at the grammar and more at God will surely help.

  5. Love your line, "The Joy of the Lord is the kind of joy I want for my writing." Yes, indeed, me too. I enjoyed very much your grammar line of study on this month's theme. A beautiful post ... thank you, Marnie.


  6. I love your "joyful" blog, Marnie, and its take-away lessons. I love your term, "joy-of-the-Lord writing," and your reminder that this type of writing, backed by Scripture, strengthens you. We can learn a lot from David's journals. His prayerful writing brought him through, and out of, real struggles and low places. The Psalmist often stated that God was his strength, his rock, his help in times of struggles. Thanks for your thoughts, lovingly and beautifully expressed. Blessings.

    1. Sharon, your encouragement again gives me joy. Thanks for brightening my day with your comment.


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