April 1, 2020
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” – Nehemiah 8:10
There are many well-known Bible verses, some of which become our favorite verses to recite during difficult times. The problem with well-known verses, however, is that they often get taken out of context. When that happens, we can lose the fullness of their meaning, or even twist the meaning for our purposes. Nehemiah 8:10 is a well-known and well-loved verse. However, it is in the context of this verse where the actual strength lies. The Law of Lord had just been read to the people of Israel. They all mourned and wept because they realized that their exile had been the result of their sin. They realized that they had turned their backs on God. In this mourning and repentance, however, they are reminded that God has never turned his back on them. He is still their God and they are still his people. They can be joyful because God is always present. When we repent and turn from our sins, he is ready with open arms. This is the joy of the Lord.
As followers of Jesus, we can have a fullness of joy that the Old Testament people of God looked forward to but never experienced. In John 17:13 Jesus says, “But now I am coming to you (the Father), and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” When we repent from our sins and turn to Christ, we share in the joy that Christ himself possesses in the presence of the father. During our current worldwide trial, I have heard many believers speak of ways that we can simply “scrape by.” But in the midst of difficulty, there is much more to be experienced by the believer than simply making it through a trial only slightly better than the lost world. We can live today, tomorrow, and long into the unknown future with an unspeakable joy; a joy that comes from the fact that we are God’s people and no earthly circumstance could ever change that. And that joy can give us a mighty strength in the darkest times.
Eternal God and Father, fill us with Your joy during our current trial. Let that joy create in us a strength to face these days, not with slightly less fear than the world around us, but in the strength to enjoy our lives in Your presence each and every day.
In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Shane Cannon