Saturday, November 14, 2015
The Source of Our Strength
UV 1585/10000 The Source of Our Strength
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.
Nehemiah 8 v 10
There was a recent story on social media about Steve Jobs of how he found everything meaningless- his wealth, his fame, his technological achievements. Along with the poignant story was a picture of him looking completely emaciated and cadaverous. For the best part of his life, the joy of innovation was his strength but pancreatic cancer robbed him of that joy and strength. There are others who say: The joy of wealth is my strength or the joy of beauty is my strength or the joy of creativity is my strength or the joy of power is my strength. But for the human being though he is multi-talented and multi-faceted, the real strength comes from knowing and experiencing the love of God. Our strengths and weaknesses are relative. Our joy in this world is transient and ephemeral. But when we put our trust in the Lord and His word, our strength-weakness configuration is changed. Our hearts that were filled with a vacuum are now filled with the joy of knowing the Lord. He perfects our strengths and turns our weaknesses into strengths. He turns threats into opportunities to reveal His plan and purpose. He unveils amazing avenues of opportunities of growth, contribution and blessing in our lives. We are no longer clods of earth seeking our own will and pleasure but seeking the Lord’s will and pleasure. A change of heart is a change of direction. As a child longs for the touch and affection of her parents, we too as adults of whatever age have a hidden desire for the parental love of the Eternal Father.
In this uni-verse, the exiles and residents of the ruined Jerusalem at the end of seventy years of captivity and bondage had gathered together as one to hear the word of God. Ezra and the priests read the scriptures to them from day break until noon and explained it to them. Hearing the Word of God revived their faith and renewed their strength. A famished man’s strength begins to return the moment the first particle of food touches his tongue. The Lord gave them understanding and revelation from the Word. Understanding the Word is like digestion. The Word had first moved the people to mourning for their sins. But God does not want our mourning to be permanent or lasting. He turns our mourning or the cause of our sadness into joy. He wants our lives to be a celebration of His creativity, His goodness, His love and compassion. The default mode of our lives is celebration of joy and only occasionally for repair and maintenance we need to go into repentance and mourning.
We are rejoicing not in our possessions, our talents, our positions, our prospects, our achievements and intelligence but we are employing all these and especially our hearts or the very essence and core of our being to rejoice in the Lord. The joy of the Lord is not a worked up frenzy of emotion but it is the quiet knowledge of the Lord. We know that the Lord derives His strength not from His great power but from His character- His righteousness. We rejoice in His righteousness or His holiness. The Israelites when they heard the Word, they bowed their heads. They lowered their faces towards the ground. They raised their hands towards the Lord. They word sackcloth and sprinkled dust on themselves. They were celebrating the holiness of the Lord. But the Lord did not want them to spend their day in repentance. They next spent a quarter of the day to praise and worship Him. This produced both joy and strength in them. They could now celebrate with sweets and delicacies and share their joy and portions of sweets with those who had nothing to rejoice over. The Lord knows best that a joy shared is multiplied and His kingdom’s influence extended.
Prateep V Philip