Nehemiah 8:10: 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.
It is so easy to be discouraged when all that we see or hear from news shows is gloom and doom. But the people of God, who can feel the same stress and sense of discouragement, have an advantage.
I am reminded that when the descendants of the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of their people being exiled to Babylon, there was not much joy to be found in Jerusalem because of the prejudice and hate of their non-Jewish neighbors. Then, Ezra brought out the Book of the Law of Moses to read to the people, as they had requested.
As Ezra read the words, the Levites taught the people, making the teachings clear, and the people wept. Seeing their tears, Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites reminded them that just being able to be in Jerusalem and hearing God’s words was a moment of holiness to be celebrated, and not a time to mourn.
Nehemiah gave them sage advice to go about their daily lives, eating and sharing what they had with others less fortunate, for they had an advantage over any enemies. The joy they received from knowing that the Lord their God, the Holy One of Israel, was with them and providing for them and would surely give them victory over their enemies was the secret to their strength to endure whatever their enemies attempted.
But I believe that in their everyday encounters with people who wanted to thwart their efforts to rebuild the walls of the city and reclaim their heritage and who did not want them in the city, their emotions got the best of them, and tears flowed from the sense of frustration and hopelessness. We have all cried tears of sorrow, grief, and pain, hoping for better days.
So, today, for believers of God, because the Spirit of the Lord lives in us, wherever we are, God is in the midst, and His joy remains our strength to sustain us through these difficult times. So, there is joy in the house today for the Lord’s people, and He is still the source of our strength to endure, even to the end of the age.
Preaise God! Amen!