Day 2: Lord, Make Me Joyful
“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 (NIV)
Painting the room. Buying the clothes. Filling drawers. There is something so very sweet about preparing to bring your child home for the first time.
At least it is supposed to be sweet.
Instead of preparing my home, I was packing my home. With five months left of my pregnancy, my husband received a job transfer 1,000 miles away from this dear place. Away from the friends we loved like family. Away from the church that embraced community.
My heart was broken. My last pregnancy was filled with joy. My closest friend and I were pregnant together. Friends who loved and took care of my family and me surrounded us. I would miss them so with the arrival of this little one.
I didn’t have the choice to move but there was one choice I did have: sorrow or sweet? I could choose to spend the reminder of my term lamenting over what I had lost or look forward with joy to what was to be.
Sometimes, we don’t think of joy as a choice. Joy seems too nebulous to be an option we have control over.
In Nehemiah 8, The Israelites were celebrating a season of change. The wall around the city of Jerusalem, which had been destroyed with enemy invasion, finally was rebuilt. The Israelites had much to be joyful about! The day of celebrating had come. Included in the festivities was the reading of God’s word, but as these words were read, the people wept as they listened.
The Bible doesn’t tell us why the people were weeping. They could have felt guilt for years of disobedience. They may have been overwhelmed with just how much the Lord loved them.
Whatever the reason, Nehemiah tells the people not to cry. He goes on to make this clear: joy is a choice. “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
I don’t think Nehemiah was saying we should never grieve. The Bible tells us there is “a time to a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 He was making it clear there is also a time to stop grieving and choose to be joyful.
The people obeyed Nehemiah’s instructions and the party erupted! “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 8:12
It is not always easy to embrace change in our lives and choose joy. Like the Israelites though, we can make an intentional shift away from the sorrow to embrace the new God is doing. The choice is our’s.
Jesus, honestly, I don’t like this change. The future has me concerned and it doesn’t look all that bright. But, I will, find the strength to go through this new season well, knowing that Your joy will see me through. Amen
Today, be on the look out for where you can make the choice between sorrow or sweet. What action can you take to help yourself make the choice to be joyful?
You can read all the May You and Your Girl series here.