“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10
I love the book of Nehemiah. It have a few highlights in my Bible in the book of Nehemiah. This verse is one of them. I have also heard this verse quoted many times, but this, like all scripture should be looked at in it’s context to see what was really happening here.
Nehemiah and a team of Israelites had just completed the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. They had done so with much opposition and they had finished it in only 52 days. They had worked hard, all the while having to be ready for battle if they were attacked from surrounding countries. But they had God on their side and they completed the wall. Then the exiles had returned to Jerusalem. I am sure all the people were a bit weary. Ezra the priest brought the Law of the Lord and he opened the book and he read it to the people. The people came face to face with their sin that day. They realized the blessing of God to rebuild the wall that had broken down because of their own disobedience. And when they did they wept.
Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites were telling them that this was a day for rejoicing in what God had done and to let what God had done in spite of their sin be their joy. The people were sad because they never should have gotten to the point they were. But God had shown a picture of redemption in the blessing of rebuilding the wall and rebuilding Jerusalem and that was a reason to be joyful.
We can be the same way. Yes when we have sinned we need to be repentant of that sin to turn away from it. But Godly sorrow brings repentance not shame. We are not to walk around kicking ourselves for the rest of our lives about the sin. We are to repent, turn and walk in the joy of the Lord. We let the joy of the Lord give us the strength to walk with Him. It is a straight lie of satan that wants to keep us down in the doldrums and stuck in shame over the things we have done. God wants a Godly sorrow for our sin, but then He wants us to turn and walk it out in Joy of Him and who He is.
Have you ever been there? I know I have. Satan loves to remind me of things I have done in my past I wouldn’t want anyone to know about, as well as the things in my present, that aren’t lining up with His will. And when he does my brain somehow has a hard time letting it go. And when that happens I find myself sitting in the ‘what ifs’ and ‘I wish’ moments and it’s just not good for my soul or my spirit. That’s not where God wants us to sit once we have turned from some sin. I know that when I succumb to fret and worry and wishing I had done things differently, or wishing that something in my circumstances now were different, I become a grumbling complaining whiny mess. But when I am laying it all down to Jesus, my past, my present and my future and when I am trusting Him to make something beautiful out of my mess, I walk with joy, peace and contentment. I am sure I am a much better person to be around when I am relying on the joy of the Lord to be my strength!