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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