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Listen while you read: "Blest Be The Tie That Binds"1 (Lyrics)
Nehemiah 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." (NRSV)
Going through ups and downs in my convalescence from burnout and depression has been a stressful time for me. When my circumstances start to change and I experience growing pains, it can affect my ability to see the situation for what it is — as God testing and purifying me so that He can prepare me for the next level of His wonderful plan for my life.
At such times, I hand the situation over to God, but emotionally, I can't help but see changes in our family's circumstances as portents of doom. I admonish myself constantly for allowing my fears to overpower my faith.
My husband, Solomon, on the other hand, is the kind of person who can always tap into God's joy, despite what is going on around him. He interacts socially and generally enjoys his life, while I sit at home lamenting over what I perceive as a downward turn of events.
In order to cheer me up, Solomon encourages me to go out for a coffee with him or to meet up with friends. However, I get too caught up in the cinema playing in my head to take on his suggestions. In such times, my husband reminds me that the joy of the Lord is our strength. God knows our current dilemma and is preparing us for promotion and blessings. In the meantime, we should rejoice in each day that God has made.
Maybe I am not as spiritually mature as my husband, for I have never really understood what Nehemiah meant when he told the Israelites in today's verse that God's joy strengthens us.
Then, a few days ago, I watched an online sermon that gave me a revelation of this Bible verse.
The pastor preached on Psalm 23:6, where God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. As I listened, I began to understand Nehemiah's words better. Sure, life would be more joyful if I could foresee how we were to persevere through our adversities, but true joy comes from the strength that only God can give me.
Revelation rained down on me: God takes joy in me as His child — I am loved, cherished, and protected. Though changes may be whirling around me in a chaotic cyclone of fear and doubt, I can be confident in the presence of God's joy, fortified in the knowledge that He has my back.
With this in mind, I will heed Nehemiah's words to the Israelites to eat, drink, and not grieve. I need not fear change, nor should I condemn myself for feeling it. Instead, I should lift my eyes to Jesus and remember that my joy comes from above. God will do the rest.
Are you currently finding it difficult to experience joy in the midst of your present circumstances? Is God leading you through a period of transition, which is making you anxious and worried?
Remember that your help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth! In prayer, ask God to show you how you can tap into the strength that comes from the joy that He feels for us, His beloved children.
Prayer: Wonderful Father, thank You that You love us and take joy in us as Your children. As You lead us through changes, help us to remember that Your joy is our true source of strength which overcomes fear and doubt. Amen.
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Great words of encouragement, Madeline. God bless.
Your posting really resonated with me today. Thank you.
Thank you for that wonderful message of encouragement.
Thank you for your vulnerability, Madeline. I pray for peace in your life.
Thank you so much for your devotional this morning. It spoke to my heart.
I just read your devotional today. Thank you for your honesty.
What a wonderfully encouraging devotional you have penned. Just what I needed this morning.
Thank you and God Bless.
Amen, Madeline! The joy of the Lord is awesome in its ability to strengthen us! Like you, it took awhile for God to get my attention when I retired. Now I’m content to do the next thing He gives me to do.
Thank you for your devotional.
It was comforting, reassuring, and a great reminder, praise God, that the joy of the Lord, is indeed our strength. God Bless You!
I loved your devotional today! Nehemiah’s verse has long been my favourite!
I will pass this devotional on to many people! Thanks so much!
God bless you today and always!!!
Thank you for another special devotional. Yes, our Lord is ever there to love and lift us with His open arms. May you continue to be strengthened as you trust in Him and seek meaning of His word.
Thank you for your honesty in sharing your life challenges. It helps so many of us see that God is our strength and redeemer even in the most difficult times.
You are such a talented writer! God bless you and your family!
Oh, what a wonderful message, Madeline. You are not alone when you said it is hard to understand the joy of the Lord. Thank you for explaining it so I could understand as well. I too am convalescing and share the struggle, but as you said, God will strengthen us.
I understand how you feel we are Presbyterian now, but I was raised sort of Baptist by a father raised true Scottish Presbyterian and an Anglican mother my husband raised by Mennonites who were not afraid to constantly thank God daily and openly. My father who lived to 89 would say first thing every morning, God has gifted me another morning.
Wow, I can sense a newfound strength for you in this devotional, which is a thing I have been praying for and so true. Another scripture I just read made me think of you and a good one for you is Philippians 1 v 3-6!!!!
God bless you as you let these scriptures from Neh. and Phil sink into your mind, heart and soul.
The phrase ‘Let go and let God’ has deep meaning and has strengthened and sustained me through some very tough times over the years….and my husband is not a believer! But we’ve had an interesting journey together for well over 50 years. And I’ve been part of a number of wonderful faith communities…. I’m so blessed, and so are you. May God’s love surround you, uphold you and strengthen you.
Thank you so much for your story and how you finally found real JOY!!! That’s a word that has always been a major word I use. That doesn’t mean I’ve never had times of distress when I had 4 teenagers. Now they are all over 65. Are they all serving the Lord? No. My Grandpa, Uncle, Daddy, and my unbelievably blessed husband were all ministers. They all gave their all but that didn’t automatically “give” them their salvation. My daughter is totally committed. The other 3 are not and they have made their choices, and we gave them all we could with the Lord’s guidance.
Know that you will be in my prayers with thanksgiving to the answers you received. God loves you and so do I.
Thanks Madeline! I keep a faith bank which is a list in a little notebook of all the wonderful things God has done for you. Not just spiritual, but more of a hands-on down to earth reckoning of God at work in your life account. Those everyday things or major interventions, how He turned a situation around or brought good out of something.
I began doing this many years ago to help deal with and squash my anxieties, fears and depression. It is quite amazing how it works as you go back and consider all the times God has helped, intervened or encouraged. It really allows me to relinquish trying to figure out, change or control a situation, which l really have no control over anyway and sit back in trust to watch how God is going to deal with it.
Many of the Psalms are examples of David drawing on his faith bank account to tide him through another difficult or seemingly impossible situation!
Your enlightenment regarding the message you heard, could be a joy coin in your faith bank.
I hope you have a wonderful and encouraging day.
I thank you for your words. I have to remind myself daily to remember who is in charge of our lives, and that He has a plan for us. We only have to believe, and the rest is God’s work.
Thank you again for your thoughtful and helpful devotional. I praise the Lord that you are one of the favorite authors on PresbyCan and I can almost identify your writing before I get to your name. You share so openly and in a way that helps a person going through what you have gone through. I praise the Lord that you also have a Solomon to give you support and wisdom.
I’ve learned that it is special to make Psalm 119 a prayer to the Lord. These are several thoughts that your devotional caused to come to mind. The faith thoughts and directives help me to have faith and joy in my walk, and I love when a person shares a favorite verse or concept that helps them like your Nehemiah passage. Keep on writing, and I will look for your next devotional in PresbyCan. Blessings.
Thank you for your Devotion Madeline. It brought comfort and joy to my spirit.
My husband and I have had some difficulties lately. I know I don’t want to continue on in this way. You helped turn me back on the Lord’s good path, taking my eyes off of every difficulty, and back onto total trust In Jesus, the Prince of Peace, my Everything! God is good, faithful and His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path!
Mega blessings to you.
Thank you for your devotional and prayer.