The Joy of the Lord
Nehemiah 8:10b “…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I have heard recently from several people that they are struggling with being mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. I’m not talking about just a long day or even a tough week, but they are going through a season of weariness. Some are experiencing consequences of their own sins. Some are living with consequences of others’ sins. Some are going through hard trials and circumstances. So many are experiencing health issues; marriages are going through big struggles; some are having issues with their kids struggling in life or choosing to walk away from God; there are issues with addiction; loses of jobs; death of loved ones. Then, in looking out in the world, we see so much corruption, greed, murders, so much anger, all sorts of lawlessness abounding.
As believers, we can find encouragement in Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
What does that mean, though? How do we have joy when we are facing the end of our marriages? How do we have joy when we have to bury our child? How do we have joy when we watch those we love walk away from Christ? How do we have joy when we are sick and can’t seem to get better? How do we have joy when we turn on the news and all we hear is about wars, shootings happening down the street from us, road rage incidents that take the lives of children?
For believers, the answer can be found in the word used for joy in Nehemiah 8:10. The Hebrew language gives us such a beautiful picture. The word can be broken down into two parts. The first part is a wall or a fence as in being fenced in with no way of escape. When we are struggling with our sin, dealing with the consequences of our sins or the sins of others, and when we look to the chaos and destruction within the world, that can be exactly what it feels like: being closed in with no way of escape. It can feel overwhelming and hopeless.
But the second part of the word means “Behold! A door in the fence!” When our sin overtakes us, when other’s sins overwhelm us, when the meanness of this world devastates us, God makes a door. He has made a way of salvation. He gives a hope when everything looks and feels hopeless. Why a door and not a gate? In ancient Hebrew culture, passing through a doorway was an act of coming into a covenant with the leader of the home. This door that He provides is not only giving an opportunity of a way in, but it also is an invitation of covenant with Him.
This door is not provided based on anything we do or don’t do but is solely based on God and who He is. Our only part is to choose to walk through it and be in covenant with Him. How do you walk through it? Get in God’s Word, align your life with what it says and where it isn’t aligned, repent.