His Joy, His Strength

Two rules I've made for myself that I almost always abide by:

1. Do not look at social media before completing my morning routine.
2. Do not read scary news stories.

Today, I ignored both. Thanks to social media, I clicked on one alarming news story, which led to clicking on another, and so on. Not only did I end up wasting several minutes, I also quickly grew unsettled as I told myself that I would never: Take the kids to the park by myself again, go to a mall, attend a public event, or trust my husband.

Wait, what? All this anxiety because of a few "clicks? Caution is a necessary part of life, but we have to make sure fear doesn't cripple us.

I laid down my phone and picked up my Bible. As I prayed for God to settle my heart with His truth, I came across this passage:

"Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength." - Nehemiah 8:10

What's interesting about this verse is that it was spoken to the Israelites as they were weeping after hearing "the book of the law of God" read to them. I imagine the tears fell as they recognized their own brokenness, their own sin, the failures of both their ancestors and themselves, and their inability to just do the right thing. But their priest, Ezra and fearless leader, Nehemiah (who also happened to have the back-breaking job of building a wall around the city and knew a thing or two about having to rely on God) told them to not grieve, because His joy was their strength. God knew the state that they were in, He saw their sorrow, and He longed to renew them with both His strength and joy. I could stop right there and just have a praise party. The Israelites pretty much did. They went on their way, ate and "had a great celebration, because they had understood the words that were explained to them." (Nehemiah 8:12)

Friends, as my sweet husband would say, "This world is stark raving mad."

People have lost their way and their minds. Think on it too much and you will feel completely unsafe. Think too much on your own inability to get things right, and you will feel completely defeated.

But we have HOPE! Hope that anchors our souls (Hebrews 6:19): God works on our behalf!

"For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit himself testifies together with out spirit that we are God's children, and if children, also heirs - heirs of God and coheirs with Christ - if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:15-18)

Joy floods my heart as I think about what's to come...the day when all my imperfections are perfected and I get to fall at the feet of my Savior and praise Him for all eternity.

With this joy, really does come His strength. Strength to set aside those things that entangle me and fulfill His purpose for me in this day.

We are absolutely unable to be the light He wants us to be in this world without His strength and joy infiltrating us. It's why we must constantly run to Him. Rest in Him. Absorb His word. Dwell on His promises. So as I set my intentions for today, I breathe in His truth and feel peace...knowing full well, He has this whole, crazy, messed-up world in His hands.


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