The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength.
In Nehemiah chapter 8, Israel has been destroyed, and its people sent into captivity. Everything is going bad, and they knew it was a punishment for how they had abandoned God. Nehemiah is allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls, so Israel can protect itself. God is with Nehemiah, and the city walls are rebuilt even with the danger of attacks from enemies.
In celebration for this achievement, the Israelites gathered together for the public reading of Scripture. For most of them, this was the first time hearing the words of the Law and having it interpreted for them. Everyone is crying.
The leaders stop everything. They said, “do not grieve, for this day is holy. Instead, go eat and drink. Celebrate with great joy.” This celebration lasted for seven days.
Joy Releases Life in You.
We are not meant to live in grief. Grief and sorrow drain you of life. They eat away your hope. The Bible says heartache crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:13). In Psalm 31:10 the writer says, “my years are spent in grief, my strength fails.”
God chooses joy because joy gives life. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy creates room in your heart for hope, and hope leads you to faith. And faith is what pleases the Lord (Hebrews 11:6).
For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). When Jesus went to the cross, do you think He knew what would happen? He knew He would be handed over to be crucified. He knew His disciples would abandon Him. He knew people would spit on Him and curse Him. He knew His very bones would come out of socket. And, He knew He would rise again in three days. He knew all of this.
What did Jesus chose to focus on? His focus was not on the betrayal of His friends. His focus was not on the rejection from His people. His focus was not on the accusations and lies. His focus was not on bearing the sins of the world. His focus was not even on the painful death or separation from His Father.
Jesus is Risen! Be Filled with Joy.
Jesus kept focusing on the joy set before Him. This gave Him the strength to endure the cross. This kept Him going.
This Easter we are encouraged to remember that God makes all things new. He is the Creator, the Redeemer. He brings life to everything He touches. Therefore we always have hope. Let’s live out our hope with overwhelming joy in this life. May our prayers be filled with life and hope. We serve a risen Savior. Praise God, He is risen!