‘… the joy of the Lord is your strength.’Nehemiah 8: 10
The Israelites who had returned from Babylon had rebuilt Jerusalem and settled in towns and villages. They now assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Trumpets in the seventh month. They heard the Law of God read and explained to them. They were so convicted of their sins that they were weeping. But Nehemiah reminded them that the day was for feasting and rejoicing. ‘This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’We are not strong when we are cast down or discouraged. Rejoicing in God and serving him with cheerfulness and thankfulness gives us the strength of mind and body to perform our work and to endure and oppose all enmity against us. There is much opposition to the Christian gospel today and we need the strength of the Lord to overcome it. ‘Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.’ (Ephesians 6: 10) James exhorts us, ‘Consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds’ (James 1: 2) and describes how testing produces maturity. Peter writes of believers’ ‘new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ … and into an inheritance that can never perish … kept in heaven for you … In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.’ (1 Peter 1: 3–6) Suffering is part of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. We become more like him if we face our sufferings with patience, fortitude and joy. It is not easy. It was not easy for him. He went steadfastly up to Jerusalem knowing what lay in front of him. He then endured the cross with its agony and shame ‘for the joy set before him.’ (Hebrews 12: 2) Let us follow in his footsteps, drawing strength from our joy in him.
Written by Diana Dunn from the UK« Previous Day Today Next Day »