Nehemiah was used of God to bring the people back to Jerusalem out of captivity to rebuild the walls of the city. When the work was done after much opposition to this endeavor, the Lord called upon Nehemiah the Governor and Ezra the priest to set aside a holy day in which the Law would be read to the people. As the people listened they wept because they saw how they had disobeyed the Lord. Their repentance was genuine, and when the reading was completed, Nehemiah sent them out to eat and drink and celebrate their new found relationship with the Living God. This is why he told them that the joy of the Lord is their strength. True repentance leads to joy that enables us to face whatever life throws our way.
|Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany|
Honestly, I do not know how in the world I could have ever faced some of the heartaches that life has brought me without God's inner joy which has helped me through it all. Losing my mother after a ten year battle with Alzheimer's, losing my father to a rare brain disease much before his time and then, losing our first born grandson suddenly two years ago are not easy things to face. Yet, God's joy has undergirded me with strength. I do not know how anyone can face the hardship and pain of loss without Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ made known to His disciples what He was passing on to them in John 15:11: "These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." This same joy is what we find as we open the pages of the Bible. Reading the Word fills us with a joy and peace that the world cannot know outside of Christ.
Like the people of Israel after hearing the Word of God went out to rejoice in His strength, so we also can do the same thing when we put Christ first. Psalm 30:5 tells us: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Let us trust in God whose joy can walk us through the deepest valley and over the highest mountain top. Selah!