The joy of the Lord

A customer came into our shop last night who was so friendly. He asked how we were and was smiling and just being generally happy. It struck me that people who are like that, attract people. It is like the saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar. How often don’t we see other Christians who are really sullen and sometimes even seem to be depressed. Why would this be?

Nehemiah 8:10, Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Jerusalem had been conquered and many of the people had been carried away to Babylon. Most of the middle and upper class people were taken to Babylon and only the poor people remained. Nehemiah was one of the exiled Jews and was the cupbearer for the king of Persia. He heard that the wall of Jerusalem were broken and could not function because of grief. The king gave him a leave of absence in order to rebuild the walls. There was quite some opposition but eventually the walls were repaired and rebuilt. Ezra read the law and the people realized the weight of their guilt and started weeping. In the next verse the Levites say, ”Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”

Nehemiah 9:17 (b), But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.

This was about the Israelites in the desert. Even though they were really disobedient, God forgave them.

Let us look at this from another angle. Every one of us is like or has been like Jerusalem with her walls broken down, and that is really the best way to be so that God can build us up again. When our walls are broken down we are vulnerable. We can’t defend our hearts anymore. We can’t pretend anymore. We have reached the point where we are at the mercy of whoever we choose to trust. If Jerusalem was a person she would be trusting Nehemiah to rebuild her walls strongly and solidly. We need to choose the right one to rebuild our walls. How many times haven’t we heard about people coming out of a broken relationship and then entering another one and it ends badly and they are left even more broken than before. We need to call out to Jesus at this point and just give ourselves and our brokenness completely to Him. It doesn’t matter what we have done and where we have been, God wipes the slate clean and allows us to start over as many times as we need. We need to keep giving ourselves to Jesus. I know a Christian who says that he will walk alongside anyone who tries. It’s all about our hearts. God looks at the intentions of our hearts. He doesn’t judge us the way the world judges us.

The Levites said, “be still, for the day is holy.” The day that we give our broken selves to God for Him to rebuild our walls is a holy day. It is also a day of rejoicing because it is the beginning of our recovery. We can be broken for so many reasons, but God doesn’t judge us on what is behind us, He knows the future and He has determined our futures. We have good futures.

Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God knows that if we allow Him to rebuild our walls they are going to be beautiful and strong and solid. He is going to use the scars and in the places where those scars are we are going to be stronger than ever. Those trials we went through are going to be our strengths and we are going to be able to do as Habakkuk says and “Walk on our high hills”. We are going to triumph above our circumstances.

Whatever the reason there are Christians who look depressed, God is able and He can change even the most desperate circumstances. He is the only one who can change your mourning into dancing and exchange your robes of heaviness for a garment of praise.


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