What joy can bring ...

Written by Brigid Beney

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Strength
Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength
Sometimes it can be hard to feel joy when our lives are being thrown all over the place. But, in the Bible, we find someone who looks past their circumstances to God’s mind-set it. Nehemiah was among the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon in 5th century BC. When he found out that the walls of Jerusalem, the holy city, had been destroyed and burned, his heart was filled with compassion and courage. He rushed back to Jerusalem, leaving his stable job behind, and rallied God’s people to rebuild the city. Nehemiah met opposition from his own people and pretty much all the other nations around Israel. But despite this, Nehemiah didn’t lose hope in God. When God’s people felt demoralised, Nehemiah gave them a serious pep talk : ‘Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’'. Just like Nehemiah, when our circumstances overwhelm us, the simple truth is that we can rely on God and his promises. He can comfort and sustain us, give us joy and strength to carry on another day.

Identity
Psalm 35:9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation It can be easy to forget that we are children of God when our lives feel messy and perhaps disappointing. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas had been arrested by city officials, stripped, beaten and thrown into prison. Their feet were clamped and they were thrown into the deepest part of the jail. They had every reason to be anything but joyful. But Paul and Silas knew who and whose they were – children of God, ambassadors of Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit. They knew their identity was secure. They weren’t going to let being jailed dampen their joy in God. As they praised God through the night, a massive earthquake shook the prison to its foundations and the chains off every prisoner! The jailer fell down trembling before Paul and Silas and asked to be saved by Jesus. Paul and Silas were not in a joyful position, but they didn’t let their circumstances dictate their actions. Sometimes life can feel like a battle, but we can find joy in the knowledge that we are God’s children, no matter what’s going on around us. And who knows who will see your joy and see God!

Rest
Luke 10:42 Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
Learning to rest in the joy of the Lord can be difficult when our to-do lists are the length of our legs, but deciding to put them down can be so good for us. Martha is one of Jesus’ friends and she appears several times in the Gospels. Initially, we see Martha prioritising her to-do list while her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. When Martha complained about her sister’s seeming laziness, Jesus explained patiently to Martha that spending time with Him is what is truly worthwhile. A little while later, Martha and Mary’s brother, Lazarus, fell seriously ill. Their first reaction was to call to Jesus to heal him. However, before Jesus got to him, Lazarus took a turn for the worse and died. Martha might have been furious with Jesus for not coming sooner, but immediately you can see a difference in her. She is learning joyful rest – trusting that God knows best. She begins trusting in His ways, even when the way seems unclear. Martha tells Jesus that she believes He is the Messiah, and this is confirmed when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.




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