“This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
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.”
The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Nehemiah 9:12)
The wall of Jerusalem had just been rebuilt. The people were returning. God’s word was being read and being explained – and the people’s hearts were breaking. Breaking over lost years. Breaking over lost opportunities. Breaking over the sin that had kept them separated from God for so long.
And God said, “Don’t mourn. This day is holy to me. Don’t grieve. Go, enjoy. It is your JOY in me that is your strength.”
God told the Israelites to not grieve three times. Apparently God was making a point here:
It is not our sorrow that pleases Him. It’s our coming home.
His children had returned. That was all he needed. They had responded to his call. They had worked together to repair and rebuild. They had turned their hearts back to him. It wasn’t a day of mourning – it was a day of celebration… a holy day to party!
A holy day to remember God’s goodness – not the lost years. To revel in the mighty acts of NOW – not the worthless acts of yesterday. To build muscles of praise able to break all chains of heaviness and make the exchange for strong, rippling Joy.
Sometimes, the tricky part is to persevere past the grief. Because there IS grief seeing our sin for the ugliness it is. There IS mourning finding ourselves at the foot of the cross. Again. There is the stopping of our heartbeat seeing His lanced side and His thorn-ladened crown.
“But if we confess our sin, He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”
Mourning sees its grief, and it may last for a night… But Jesus says, “Come. All you who are heavy-ladened. I will give you rest. Do not mourn. This day is holy to God. Exchange your mourning for my joy. It is Joy that comes in the morning. It is my joy that is your strength.”
Joy is the power of the empty tomb.
Joy is my stinking sin transported on his lashed-cut back, transformed to the strength and brilliance of His rock-moving sunrise.
My joy is found in Him.
Lord, everything you are, is everything I am not. And I am so humbled and grateful to be able to exchange all of me, for all of you. Oh sweet Jesus, help me rebuild my walls – by your hand, and by your spirit and by your strength I will praise you and grieve no more. I will be strong in the joy of your hand in my life.
Watering Today: Prov 15; ps 15; Nehemiah 1- 9;