had been incredibly unfaithful to God. They had forgotten his commandments and
his promises, but God never forgets. So God used men like Ezra and Nehemiah and
even a king named Cyrus to give Israel another chance. They began to rebuild
the walls of Jerusalem and the temple within it. When they read the word of the
law, all of the people wept. They saw the pain and suffering their own sin
brought upon them.
after the reading was completed, Nehemiah spoke to the nation. He said, “Go
your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has
nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the
joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10).
all the reasons to be sad, Nehemiah promised that the joy God provides would
strengthen the nation. Habakkuk said that even if everything good in his land
should fail, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my
salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
causes sadness and sorrow? The things that result from sin. Pain, death,
separation, and fear.
causes joy? Being in relationship with the author of light and life and love.
joy is our strength, our fuel for living, our power for righteousness. Joy is part
of the Spirit’s fruit in Galatians 5.
advent of Jesus is powerful to give us real joy for living. Jesus addressed the
very real hardships the disciples (and we!) would face. “Truly, truly, I say to
you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be
sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy…So also you have sorrow now, but
I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your
joy from you.” (John 16:20-24)
of Jesus, no matter what sadness we face, we are fueled by indestructible joy.