“And Nehemiah continued, “Go celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10, NLT
“Joy Worth Finding!”
One of the glaring realities of the health pandemic of the past few years, is that it’s estimated that up to two-thirds of Americans exhibit the emotional stressors associated with the many issues we face. One leading mental health specialist, Dr. Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA) says, “Without some national recovery plan to address these stress issues, we will be dealing with the [mental] fallout from the pandemic [and other issues] for some years to come.” The many ideations of despair: anger, sadness, guilt, and dejection are not new. Crises of any variety have caused distress within the human family. A difficult period can be like an “exile,” where people become estranged from what is ordinarily normal in their lives. This happens during a crisis, but its effects are apparent after the crisis has abated. Some seventy years after the Israelites had been forced into exile by the Babylonians, they were now free, and were repatriated to their homeland in Israel. The Temple, their center of worship, and it’s surrounding walls, were being rebuilt under the plans given to Zerubbabel. When the wall was completed in 52 days, Nehemiah called for a feast. His remedy for their sadness and stress, was to tap into the “joy” that God had given them, despite their ordeal. They were understandably repentant and felt guilty for the sins that brought about exile, but Nehemiah, the governor, wanted them to know that forgiveness and healing comes from God. Our periods of exile, may be rare and few in life; but they can exact a toll on our emotions. As sons and daughters of the Most High God we must acknowledge that His joy is our strength. God’s joy, deep within us, is what heals us always. Every trial is temporary; but God’s joy, is eternal!