A new year brings the feeling of new opportunities, experiences and adventure. People are often excited to turn over a new leaf.
Youth With a Mission, the organisation I work for, have recently been talking a lot about joy. Its come during an interesting time for us as a campus. We are undertaking a huge building project, while sending Discipleship Training School graduates home and others on their overseas missions trips. We are in a season where we’ve all needed to push in and choose joy together.
When God said to the Israelites', “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” He was talking about rejoicing throughout it all. That word joy doesn’t promise happiness or easy-ness, but in this context means, when you rejoice the Lord will be your strength.
In Nehemiah 8 they had just finished building the walls. Something was missing and they realized life is more than just brick and mortar, their lives are still in shambles. Nehemiah chapter 9 verse 36 says “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you, God, gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.
Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.”
While they were in a foreign land, they forgot their spiritual heritage, native language and God. They saw slavery being the result of their sin. They had experienced destruction.
During the battle, they didn’t feel spiritually fulfilled. They knew so much was missing. This was when God said to Nehemiah “Tell them to rejoice throughout everything and in that, they will receive my strength.” Their response was sadness because they became aware of their sin, but knowing God was doing something new, they could walk out in His joy.
It took them together, actively choosing to rejoice. In this story they chose this by eating and drinking together, looking past their sadness and to Gods joy.
This story is no different than what we go through today. Its often easy to be excited but as soon as opposition hits, its hard and we give up. I believe this is why joy is described as rejoicing. Its not a fleeting emotion, like happiness can be, but an encouragement to stand together and rejoice throughout it all.
Rebecca Bowie is a young Christian who is intentionally seeking after Gods heart and striving to love people with everything. Now living in Brisbane Australia, was formerly living in London, England. She's a full-time volunteer at Youth with a Mission.
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