“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.” (Neh. 8:10)

In the above verse Ezra, the priest, is reading from the book of the law of Moses to the Israel people and they worshipped the Lord. They knew that the Lord was their strength. This is no longer the case. We no longer reverence God and put our full trust in Him. We have therefore lost our joy and allowed the darkness of today to come upon us.

Our lives are filled with chaos and uncertainty. We are not filled with joy and peace. We are allowing the disappointments and stresses of everyday life to take away “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding…” (Phil. 4:7). The world is full of doom and gloom. We have terrible droughts in Australia, parts of the United States and Europe. At the same time we are having floods and fires in other parts of the world. Our food sources are being compromised and our water is also in trouble. Cancer and other health issues are affecting more and more of us. Our culture appears to be obsessed with sex and sexual perversion and this is having an effect on everyone. The news today is full of wars and violence. We are constantly seeing pictures of the devastation in many countries where children are starving to death. It is indeed a very sad world. But where is our joy?

Joy does not mean going around all the time with a silly smile on our face and laughing at everything someone says or does. In John 15:11 Jesus says “These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”. The concordance number for this “joy” is 5479 (chara) which reads as cheerfulness, ie. calm delight – gladness. He wants us to be calm and cheerful in the midst of all this darkness. We are to know that He is our strength. The reference number for “joy” in Nehemiah 8:10 is 2304 (chedvah) which also indicates rejoicing – gladness, joy. Our joy is to be in the Lord. We are not to dwell on the horrible things that are happening in the world and in our lives but we are to put our focus on the Lord and what He would have us do at this time.

I have noticed that we have become a culture that is almost obsessed with being busy. We do not seem to know how to relax. When we are calm and quiet God is able to speak to us. When we are running around doing things all the time how can God even get a word in!!! How can our bodies be calm and how can we be cheerful when our thoughts are filled with “the world” and all that we have to do each day? We must not let the world control our lives. Obviously we do have our chores and responsibilities that we must do each day, but we must also have time to relax and be calm. If we don’t our bodies and our spirit pay the price.

This is a difficult time and it is hard not to feel sad, lonely and depressed at times but we are to remain steadfast in our faith. We must be patient and rejoice in the Lord. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed”. (James 1: 2-6). If we remain steadfast God will be with us and guide us. He is our joy. He is our strength.

God has given us the wonderful joy of His creation. There is much darkness in this world but there is still much of God’s beauty in His creation. He has left us with all of these things to help us and to glorify Him. We must turn our thoughts and hearts to Him. All of the things that are going on in the world today are temporary. Yes, they do have a strong influence on us but we have something bigger than the world. We have our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, living inside of us. This is His world. He is coming to rule very soon and all of these trials and tribulations will be gone. We must rejoice in the Lord. He is our joy. He is our strength.

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”. (1Pet. 1: 8-9).