And Nehmiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks,
and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.
This is a sacred day before our Lord.
Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”
Nehemiah 8:10 NLT
Sometimes, in challenging situations, I feel like I can justify a bad attitude. In fact, I have developed a key chart for my husband’s benefit in case he forgets when it’s okay for me to be rude, short, or irrational.
- Sick? Of course it’s okay to be cranky and agitated about everything.
- Quitting caffeine (again)? It is completely acceptable to treat others the way my head is treating me!
- Mid-thought interruption? Who is actually more rude – me for getting angry at the interruption or you for interrupting my conversation with myself?!
- 6:00p.m.? Kids, kids’ homework, dinner, dog… aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!
Of course I’m kidding about the chart (maybe) but in reality, I find it really interesting how I find certain responses totally rational in the heat of a moment but, when I’m calm it becomes blindingly obvious that the cause doesn’t necessarily justify the response. Does this apply across the board? What about if the cause is something that is universally accepted as a reason to be rude – such as experiencing a tragedy or going through puberty? What is the best way to respond when my internal “world” collides with the world around me?
God gave me the answer through Nehemiah’s example. In chapter 8, Nehemiah called Ezra to come read the book of God’s law to all the people. They joined together in praising God and then listening to God’s commands and promises. Nehemiah wanted to make sure that the people clearly understood God’s word, so he had the Levites walk around while this was happening and help the people understand each passage. Finally, they were able to understand how they their lives had conflicted with God’s will and what the result of that was. The whole community responded with weeping; they were filled with sorrow at the realization of how far off God’s will they were. But check out how Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites responded:
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share the gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before the Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)
This is a sacred day before the Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength! What a powerful response to this moment… to any moment! Any moment that we are a part of God’s family is sacred; as children of God we are forgiven and Holy. THIS is a sacred day before the Lord!
- Betrayed? Don’t be dejected or sad, for the joy of the LORD is my strength!
- Rough day? Don’t be dejected or sad, for the joy of the LORD is my strength!
- Hormones? Don’t be dejected or sad, for the joy of the LORD is my strength!
The best way to respond to the interruptions, struggles, stress, changes and sorrows of life is to remember that it is in His Son’s death that we are free. “The joy of the Lord” is the truth that we will never have to pay the penalty for our sins; We are forgiven! The tears of shame, embarrassment, sorrow, anger, and frustration can melt away as we celebrate our eternal freedom!
Dear Lord, thank you for letting me respond differently because of your joy. Thank you for sharing you joy with me so that I can be strong in the face of challenges and frustrations. Your mercy and generosity leave me in awe as I consider that YOUR joy is that I can be your child. Please help me write these words on my heart and treat each day as your sacred day in joy! Amen.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/mybloodyself/2062717505/”>danmachold</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>