Some Joy and Some Joyful Thoughts and a Story or Two 1/18/22

Greetings! What is Joy? I think you can find it means rejoicing, glad, gladness. Sometimes joy can be a shouting! Glad or gladness can be deep inside oneself, or it can be exuding from within being proclaimed, because of something great deep inside you. I’ll get back to Joy!

In ancient writings of thousands of years ago a person named Nehemiah who was serving a King (they were not of the same heritage and religion) got along quite well. When the burden of the pain and suffering of Nehemiah’s people, the Jews/ people of Judah and the destruction of the City of Jerusalem which his people inhabited was great, it was too much for him to take, he knew he had to take action. He went to the King and told him what was going on and asked the King for help for time off and other. He needed to travel to Judah and Jerusalem. This meant where there were governors and leaders that Nehemiah would encounter that might resist his passage through their lands. He would need permission from the King to make sure they let him travel safely across his Kingdom. King Artaxerxes was willing to help Nehemiah because of Nehemiah’s faithfulness to him. It would not be beyond the realm of thought or even probability that Divine Intervention by Nehemiah’s God played a role in the help that Nehemiah received to get to Jerusalem.

Nehemiah found the walls of Jerusalem destroyed. He put a plan in place and with the support and hard work of the citizens of Jerusalem the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in 52 days. During those times Nehemiah and those working to rebuild the walls heard threats, cynical voices, fake media (still true today) to stop. There are always those who will resist those who are doing good! There were times when the workers carried a weapon in one hand and continued building. They were having to protect themselves from enemies and build a wall at the same time. Nehemiah was named the Governor of Jerusalem and headed up the construction along with spiritual help from a scribe/Prophet named Ezra. They read the Book of the Law, praised and worshipped their God! Nehemiah wanted to encourage and reinforce the great work that had been done for their God and the people of Jerusalem. They ate special foods and Nehemiah told them “The Joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10) in the Hebrew text – we know it as the Old Testament of the Bible.

During this Season of the year, I am planning for my work and some family activities in 2023. You are probably doing some of the same things for your business or ministry or family as well. I am also Spiritually being fed through reading and praying and in that prayer listening – maybe that same God that Nehemiah spoke too, may impress upon me His Guidance and Will for me in my life going forward – No maybe, He will! I expect it!

This Joy thing when speaking of God or the Lord (capital G, capital L) is very meaningful. Nehemiah inferred that God the Lord was Joyful. Did this mean all the time? I understand that He always has Joy to share. Even in dark times, when tyranny and twisted thoughts and actions are highly visible all around us and it is right now, there is Joy to be found. A song I heard once said that God sees the storm from the other side. He sees the sunshine when we see clouds and rain. Joy seems to be something deep not shallow. It is your spirit smiling because of the Divine Presence and activity in your life. There is a difference! A birthday party can be fun and beautiful and cause laughter. But Joy lasts pass the party and the fun of playing with a special present you may have received – you get the idea.

I argue (respectfully of course 🙂 that the Joy of the Lord being our strength does produce laughter, but more importantly it gives that feeling of lightness in our hearts not heaviness. It is more than a feeling but an assurance – a for certain thing that what God (many of us know Him as Jesus), is continually working on our behalf and there for us when we need Him. This brings a gladness and assurance that is unspeakable, and many including me would say full of Glory (magnificence, great beauty)! Here is the point of Joy and Christmas time and if you are Jewish, the 8 days of Hannukah. Christmas and Hannukkah represent something deeper than just fun, celebration and being happy which they both do. They are times of assurance that Victory does occur. That God loves His People, and He sends His Word to save them and sends what is needed to rescue and restore them, their land and give His Joy. I experience this so I know it is true.

If you are having trouble breaking through the darkness and maybe even loneliness and depression that sometimes may grab all of us to one degree or another, take a serious look at the Joy that God demonstrates. At Christmas and through the celebration of Hannukkah…there are stars to be seen and candles lit that push away the darkness of evil and doubt and worry and give you strength. As Nehemiah said in so many words: don’t get down, be up! Don’t worry! Rejoice! Now! The tough part is over! Rejoice in the Victory we have through our God for “the Joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Whether the focus is on a manger, a Star, Wisemen and a baby who will bring redemption to the world. Or the walls of a city being restored for its citizens, a nation and its primary city Jerusalem being saved. Regardless, greatness can prevail for now and centuries to come, it is the Joy of the Lord that makes it happen!! Joy gives you and me and all who want it an opportunity to have strength. This strength from our God is a deep sense of gladness within…He doesn’t mind the celebrations with good food, presents mixed with special times with friends and family, but real Joy comes from our God, and it gives strength like nothing else.

Blessings in Joy!

Dr. Jim

P.S. The Christmas Story and the Story of Nehemiah can be found in the KJV or other of the Holy Bible. The Story of Hannukkah can be found in the Apocrypha, the story of the Maccabees.