The Joy of the LORD is Your Strength
Neh. 8:9 ¶ And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.
Neh. 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Neh. 8:11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.”
Neh. 8:12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
The people were overwhelmed at the reading of the Law and they began to weep. They realized how unfaithful they had been but this was not to be a time for weeping. Instead they were to rejoice in the salvation which comes from God. God brings great joy and so they were to celebrate this, enjoying a feast with the very best of all that they had. They were to invite everyone within the walls to celebrate, sharing what they had so that no one would be left out. This was an invitation to enjoy the holiness of God and to focus on the positive, not the negative.
Rejoicing in the LORD would bring them strength. They had survived very difficult times and they had rebuilt the walls. Now was the time, not to weep or mourn for the past, but to rejoice in the present that God had provided for them. Mourning the past and weeping would drain all the life out of them and this was not what God wanted for his people. Celebrating God’s faithfulness would restore them and bring them joy and strength!
It’s not necessarily the amount of work that we have to complete in life that can make us tired and exhausted, but instead the way in which we do the work. When we are working from a sense of drudgery and frustration there will be no energy. Creativity disappears and there is constant weeping and mourning for what may have been.
We are invited into God’s holiness and his future in which we find his joy and strength. We may still have as much, or even more work to do but suddenly it becomes energizing and life-giving instead of draining. This is the place into which we are encouraged to live — in the Lord’s joy. There is no time to grieve what may have been because there is too much good stuff going on in the present! We are to continue to press on into the present and future which comes to us from God.
Celebrate the Lord today and share your celebration with all those around you. Live into the joy of the Lord and you will discover his strength. Then our tears will disappear and we will be renewed with energy and motivation that we believed had long ago departed and would never return.
Lord, may my heart stay focused on you and your joy. Amen.