Question: I continue to hear about the "joy of the Lord" as our strength in these challenging times. Looking up the phrase in the Bible, the only scripture [I found] was from Nehemiah and referred to the Passover Day celebration. Nowhere in the New Testament is the phrase spoken, and the closest allusion is from First Thessalonians, [where] the reference is "The joy the Holy Spirit brings." I feel that there are a great many Christians, especially the biblical and fervent ones, who are experiencing trials (such as myself) and would appreciate some biblical input that is not pabulum. If called to stand for Christ in these Last Days, we need to know the sources of the strength [necessary] to continue standing.
Response: In 1 Peter:1:8, we read, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." This passage assures us that "the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Pt 1:7). And don't forget Jesus' words in John:8:56: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." The phrase "rejoice in the Lord" occurs at least nine times, including Habakkuk:3:18: "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
Concerning our faith, even "though it be tried with fire," we know the certainty of His appearing, and thus we still have joy. In John 15, the Lord Jesus instructs the disciples to abide in the vine (Jn:15:1-8) and later warns of persecution that will come to those who follow him (Jn:15:18-21). Before this, however, He says, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (Jn:15:11). Why should our joy be "full"? Well, because "the joy of the Lord" enables us to withstand the trials that will come. This is not some masochistic concept. As you point out, Nehemiah:8:10 tells us, "The joy of the LORD is your strength." But this applies to more than the Passover. The Jews had returned from 70 years of exile and had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, witnessing the Lord's protection from their enemies. So they read the Scriptures celebrating the Passover, which portrays the Lord's first coming.