Recently someone dear to me shared they struggle with feeling unworthy. Unworthy in the sense that they weren’t close enough to God, feeling they weren’t DOING enough for Him. This person is setting aside time, focus and energy right NOW in this season of their life for HIM, His word, His people, like they never have before. This morning, I awoke with this verse on my heart. “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Neh. 8:10 This verse is quoted often as encouragement, and rightly so. A few years ago I read an article written by a Messianic Rabbi, all I remember was his pitch on a different twist, a new perspective on this verse. So I grabbed my mug of coco laced with cinnamon, and began to dig. My results? I too agree with the Rabbi. Let me explain in my own little way:
In the day of Ezra and Nehemiah, a group of Jewish exiles numbering around some 50,000 had returned to their homeland of Jerusalem, this after the lengthy captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah’s role was to lead the people in rebuilding the walls of the city. There was great (not so kind) opposition from the neighboring folks, half the men stood guard while the other half worked on the wall, it was an ‘All hands on the wall’ event, each family working on their assigned section.
Upon the completion of the wall, Ezra brought out the written law of Moses. As he opened it, A-L-L the people stood up. They hadn’t heard this in ages, LITERALLY! They were so overwhelmed, the bowed their faces to the ground and worshipped. In this worship … they wept. What an amazing sight that would be, to see so many tender to the Word of the Lord. They were realizing just how far they can gone AWAY from their God. Their covenant God. THIS is when Ezra and Nehemiah declare to them, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep…” Nehemiah continues on, (read this slowly) “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:9-10
A people who were once far off, had now come home. Not only geographically, but home to their God. They labored side by side for one cause, their hearts rendered open when hearing God’s word. HERE, God was pleased. He found joy in their unity, in their renewed awareness of Him. God in His everlasting love and mercy was waiting. He is a covenant keeping God. They were telling the people, “Oh find strength in knowing God is pleased with you, He finds JOY in YOU!” Holiness and joy together!
How many of us too, deem ourselves unworthy. We glance over our shoulder and see the mess behind us, we see our straying, our lack of … God. When we do come ‘home’, we want to bow our head in disgrace. Oh beloved, “Do not grieve!” God is our God of NOW! Yes WORSHIP, but R-A-I-S-E YOUR HEAD! Be strengthen, He is pleased, He is over joyed. He is YOUR God.
If you know someone who is discouraged, beating themselves up regarding their past, please forward this to them, be their Nehemiah and declare, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another one towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)