The Joy of the Lord!
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
You’ve heard this verse, quoted this verse, and possibly reminded yourself of this verse. It’s a familiar one. But where does it fall in the storyline of God’s Word? Nehemiah. Yes, you might have to use your table of contents for that book! It’s okay. But what a fascinating piece of the Story.
In this part of the Bible, the Israelites are coming out of exile. God allowed their enemies to overtake them and carry them away to foreign lands because of their sin and rejection of Him and His precepts.
Here you see them coming out of exile and returning to God. When the law is read to them as a people, they see their blatant sin and are overcome. Ezra, however, instructs them not to mourn, “for this day is holy to the Lord” (Neh. 8:9b).
This is a strange reaction to the lamenting of their sin. They had clearly sinned against God. So why was God commanding joy from them? Because they had returned to Him.
He in no way downplayed their sin. His focus was simply on their return to Him. Their exile out of their sinfulness and into His arms.
Do you see His heart?
It is towards His people. He is approachable.
He is waiting for you with open arms.
You can see the truth that you have joy in His presence. In fact, it brings Him joy when you choose to be with Him. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
He desires to fill you with all joy. You find joy in trusting His word. This is true whether you are basking in His truth or returning to His word from a long, painful exile.
He doesn’t care where you come from. He just wants you with Him.
Think of the story of the Prodigal son. You will find a generous picture of the Father Heart of your God in Luke 15:11-32. You see sin, walking away from the father, and a rebellious, selfish heart.
Have you ever been there? I know I have. I know the Israelites could relate as well. And like the Nehemiah passage, this story ends with a clear view of God’s heart.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;"
Think of one person you've felt love for. By just looking at them, you smile... I'd love to hear in the comments who you've felt compassion towards recently!
I'll share one of mine below.
Tina Akridge has walked through loss, and grief after losing her husband who fought cancer for eight years. She learned how to lean on God, and hopes to hold the hand of those who are going through their own loss, offering compassion to them, and helping them turn to God's promises.
Tina's writing will be a friend in those dark places, and show you where to find more peace in your life.
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