Nehemiah 8:9b-10b – “… For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. … Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
The people’s tears showed that the message was taken seriously. They were right in taking the Word of God seriously, but they did not need to be overwhelmed by grief. The feast was not for weeping but for rejoicing. Only one occasion for mourning and fasting was found among Israel’s feasts, and that was the Day of Atonement. The rest of the feasts were to be kept with joy and celebration. The fruit of the Spirit was to be visible: love, in sharing with the less fortunate; joy, in eating and drinking before the Lord; peace, in calming their fears and putting their hearts at rest. Their sadness was turned to joy, and the joy of the LORD was their strength. Many of these people had never before heard the Word of God. The clear reading and teaching of the Law caused them to be convicted of sin. It caused a great emotional outburst and the tears of repentance to flow. Possibly it also caused them to weep for joy because they were so moved. The Word of God is supposed to bring you joy. That is one of the reasons John wrote his first epistle. In 1 John 1:4 he says, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” God doesn’t want you to have a little fun; He wants you to have a whole lot of fun reading and studying His Word. Studying the Bible ought to bring joy into your life. You must go to God in prayer and say, “Lord, I want your Word to bring joy into my life. Whatever cloud there is, I want it removed that I may experience the joy of the Lord.”
Nehemiah still came against difficulty and ridicule about what he was attempting to do, but he had something more powerful, he had joy in his work and joy in his Lord. When you have a difficult job to accomplish, do you get immediately overwhelmed and stressed out or do you quickly look to the Lord to empower you for the job at hand? Be challenged this week to let joy rule in your heart based on who God is and not based on your current circumstances. When you find yourself experiencing a time of sorrow or desperation for your own needs or the needs of someone you love, that is the time you must get on your knees and ask God to show you the path you need to take in order to carry you through safely. Choose to rely on His strength and not your own and you will see the impossible become the possible. Decide ahead of time that you will rise above your circumstances and find complete joy in this journey called life. Remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength. God bless you.