“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah and his company had reason to rejoice. He had been authorized to lead an expedition from the place of the Jews’ captivity to their homeland, in Jerusalem. There he would organize and supervise the rebuilding of the city walls. In spite of numerous delays and continued opposition, the walls were now completed. It was an occasion that called for joy, and he spoke of the “joy of the Lord” being the strength of God’s people.
It is such a simple and yet transforming thought: God wants us, His children, to experience an abundant life. He wants us to be a joyful people. He gives us joy. One evidence of the Holy Spirit’s filling is the presence is joy. We should be, and can be, a rejoicing people. We have abundant reasons to have joy. There is joy in knowing our sins are forgiven. When the Samaritans received the Gospel and were saved, the Bible describes their disposition as having great joy in their city.
There is fulfillment in knowing our lives have purpose. There is joy in knowing our Father is in control. There is joy in serving the Lord and others. Some have used the following acronym for the word joy: Jesus, Others, You. There is joy when God’s people gather together for worship. Psalm 122:1 says, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”
Joy is good for us, and it is good for others. Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Happiness and laughter are good for us. An optimistic outlook is healthy. Very few of us want to be around a complainer or critic. A person’s attitude can be contagious, and our position in God’s grace gives us reason to rejoice.
It would be wise for us to think about the kinds of things that can hinder our joy. For instance, we know that unconfessed sin in our lives can steal our joy. David said, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12). Other things can also affect our joy such as worry, fear, bitterness, self-centered living, etc. Satan wants to steal our joy because there is strength and power in “the joy of the LORD.”