Scripture for Today: Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”
Growing up in France, it was always a big deal for our children to buy and enjoy the Kinder Eggs. This simple chocolate treat had a toy inside within a plastic shell. The “surprise” was always very simple and quickly forgotten, but it was always good for a few brief moments of joy. I am more familiar with the Kinder egg being labelled “Kinder Surprise” rather than “Joy.”
Today’s verse encourages the Israelites to enjoy food and drink and to celebrate the reading of the Book of the Law of Moses. After years of exile, they had come back to their homeland. And after years of exile, they were hearing the word of the Lord, some of them for the first time ever. They were overcome with grief and were weeping as they listened. But the joy of the Lord was the order of the day! Continuing their mourning would only sap their strength. Instead of grieving they were to celebrate God’s love and instruction.
There is a time to mourn and weep when facing God’s convicting word. He is close to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit for their sin. (Psalm 34:18) But there is joy when I feel His forgiveness wash over me! The realization of his unconditional love and grace wipes those tears and gives me new resolve. I am energized and strengthened when His joy lifts me off my knees.
Thank you Lord, that you turn mourning into gladness (Jer. 31:13) and exchange my sorrow for Your comfort and joy!
(Look familiar? This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)