Written by Jennifer T.
I was looking for a scripture about “Joy” recently to try and help someone who I knew was struggling in their life. Nehemiah 8:10 popped into my head immediately because it is such a familiar and often-used verse, “….for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” I’ve always known that our joy should come from God. He is to be our delight and our purpose. I’ve heard it preached time and time again that if we are serving the Lord, and in His will, we can have joy and contentment no matter what trials we are going through. Paul spoke to this in Philippians 4:11, “….for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” I also love Psalm 94:19 (ESV), “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
As I dug deeper into Nehemiah, I learned that he had come to Jerusalem because when he had inquired about how the Jews were doing and how Jerusalem was doing (in chapter 1) he found out that the people were not doing well and the wall of Jerusalem was broken. When he got there and saw the destruction and the condition of the hearts of the people (they had turned away from God) he had the people gather together in the streets and commanded that Ezra bring the book of the law before the people and read it to them (chapter 8). They needed to be reminded of the Commandments of God and see their sinful nature. The people listened as the law was read and explained so they could understand. Then the people wept (Neh. 8:9). They were sorry for the way they had been living. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” That is exactly what had happened. The Word of God had pierced their hearts and caused them to repent. Then an amazing thing happened. As they were crying over their sinfulness, Ezra told them to go and celebrate. He had seen their repentance and declared a celebration and then told them, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Strength in this scripture means protection, a place of safety, a fortress. Now that these people were turned toward God, they would have joy, which would in turn be their protection, their safe place, from the trials and temptations around them.
Many people I know are struggling during this time. It may have to do with being separated from family and friends because of the virus. It may be because of a family problem. It may be because you’ve drifted away from God and aren’t studying the Word and praying. There could be any number of reasons why someone struggles. But no matter what the reason is, if we are turned toward God, His joy can be our strength. His consolations can cheer our soul (Psalm 94:19). We can be content (Phil 4:11). If you are unable to find joy, I challenge you to read His Word. He is there to be your protection from the difficult things in your life. Remember how I started out studying this? I was looking for something to help a friend. Within 2 days of beginning this study I came upon my own struggle in life and needed to apply this to myself as well. God gives us what we need, when we need it. This does not mean you will not have sad days, but in turning to God, He will be your safe place and give you hope through it all.