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.” Nehemiah 8:10
Application to life:
A little background on Nehemiah 8: People were gathering around to hear the word of God. Ezra (who was responsible for bringing people back to worship God) had stood on a platform above all the people so they could hear the Word of the Lord from “daybreak till noon” (Nehemiah 8:3). For around six or so hours people listened to the Word of the Lord and they soon felt sad and wept because they realised they had sinned against the Lord.
Now we come to Nehemiah 8:10 where it says to rejoice! Nehemiah (Ezra’s partner) told the people to not grieve and that “the joy of the Lord” is their strength. His message to the people was that they should acknowledge and repent about their sin (it is important to have an open heart and realize the wrong that has been done) but if that takes precendce over the fact that Jesus is Lord and that God is good then the tears are not worth it.
The main point here is that we can feel a certain way (sad) but it does not mean that we do not have joy (knowledge that we are saved because of Jesus). Nehemiah told the people to go and to be joyful. The people, though sad with what they learned about themselves, recieved joy in the Lord and responded thus.
A Worshipper’s Word:
A question I have asked myself is “can I have joy when I am not happy?” It was difficult at first to answer because when I looked up what joy was it states that it is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” This defintion makes joy seem like it is an emotion that can come and go and is true in an intellectual sense but not in a spiritual sense.
I mean that the things of God are not the same as they are for man (Isaiah 55:8-9). The way that we understand things is very different because we rely mostly on what we see and feel. Joy is not a feeling that comes and goes it is the realization the Jesus is Lord and the unwavering trust that he will do what is best for us. Happiness is a feeling that can come and go, but, just because we are unhappy and dislike a job we still go to work.
Nehemiah chapter 8 is setting this example to the people: You may be hurt but the feeling will pass so don’t let it inhibit the good that you can receive from the Lord.