Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
The Israelites were going through some very tough times. They were captive in a foreign land and a generation grew up away from the Promised Land. They have recently returned to the land of their forefathers, but life is not easy. They’ve been trying to rebuild the city and the temple under great threats and intimidation. The fact is, nothing is going well for them. They are glad to be back in the Promised Land, but it is not like the land their fathers described. In the midst of their hardship Nehemiah stops and declares a day of celebration. He tells everyone it is time to rejoice in the things they know for sure — that God is faithfully restoring them to the land of their fathers. He is providing for their needs during these troubled times. He is protecting them from the enemies that threaten them. It is a “let’s correct our perspective” day of celebration.
I think that most of us can relate to their trials and hardship. Most of us have had a rough year or two recently. We might be ending this year beaten, battered, and maybe even a little bitter. Let this New Year be a time for correcting perspectives. Let it be a day to truly celebrate the things we know for sure. Let’s set aside the miseries of this time and celebrate the truths of God’s gracious protection and providence.
Nehemiah says, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Join me in setting aside reasons to grieve and focusing on the awesome grace of God. Let’s let His joy become our strength. Who of us could use a little more strength today? Join me in heeding Nehemiah’s advice.