Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

I love these words from Nehemiah, especially the last line in the verse which says “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” – they are a reminder that though times may be very weird for some, and very painful for others we are reminded where our strength lies… it lies in our ‘joy of the Lord’.

Joy doesn’t mean be happy, although that’s what the word has come to mean in today’s usage. It originally meant having a deep-seated assurance in something unshakable. A lifestyle coach Rachel Fernley says it like this.

“Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events”. And Rachel Fernley is right.

However, the question is then this… what helps us to ”make peace with who you are”?, what have we “cultivated internally”? & how do we get to a place of Joy, something that is based internally, not on outward experiences? My answer, we simply lean into the word of God and take on board what it says about us, what it says about who God is and what Jesus did for us and why that happened.

We are so deeply loved by God that Jesus came to earth, lived among us as a man, then died for us… hands that flung stars into space, that had been at the creation of the world, that brought healing, those hands didn’t struggle when it came to giving His life for you. When Jesus stepped into the gap that separated us from God by taking on himself the consequences of our sin, he did so because of love for us So, get out your bible today and read God’s promises to you… here are just a few.

Exodus 14:14 – “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Psalm 50:15 – “…and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour me.”

Isaiah 43:1 – “But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'”

1 John 3:1a – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

We find our strength in the ‘joy of the lord’ when we know, deep inside, who we are to God, and we remember to what lengths He will go to remind us of this fact. Then we become settled in who we are because we know who God thinks we are… in His eyes ‘we are worth everything He has’

Until next time, be safe. Every blessing, Pastor James