Put Your Mourning Aside: It's Time To Celebrate
The month of June is known for its celebrations; in fact, it is the most popular month for weddings and, along with May, for graduations. Friends Needing Friends International is celebrating two noteworthy milestones: the New Jersey chapter turns twenty-six and the blog celebrates its first anniversary with over 8,500 "hits" in eleven countries to its credit. While all the praise for every accomplishment for this ministry goes to God, I think there is Scriptural precedence for celebration and partying. One only has to look in the book of Nehemiah to read of such celebrations.
The rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem is recorded within this book. It was not an easy process. The workers became discouraged and wanted to quit, their enemies taunted them, and Nehemiah had a lot to contend with in leading the people in this process. Once it was completed and the beautiful city of Jerusalem was again well defended, those Israelites who had been taken captive and were now living elsewhere began to come "home" to Jerusalem which once again began teeming with people. Then Ezra, the priest, called the people together to read the Law of God aloud to them as it had been so long since that had occurred. They were so happy to once again hear God's Word that they wept openly. The eighth chapter of Nehemiah tells us that Nehemiah told the people to stop their weeping, for the joy of the Lord was their strength. Then, he told them to do something that might seem a little curious to us: he told them to "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks..." Ladies, that's a celebration. Your ministries have been developed with tears, moments of wanting to give up, and discouraging remarks by outsiders, but FNF, as well as the blog, is stronger than ever. To God be the glory! This calls for a celebration. It's time to party!
The twelfth chapter of Nehemiah records the joyous occasion of the dedication of the wall. I think it could well serve as a model for what Friends Needing Friends will be doing in June. Verse twenty seven tells us that they celebrated with songs of thanksgiving. It is fitting that you women give thanks to God for FNF, not forgetting to be thankful for Dotti, the founder, and Florida director, as well as Rainey, who developed and maintains the blog. And don't forget all those who work so hard each month to put on the lovely meetings that you enjoy.
I also note that the Scripture states that they celebrated joyfully. There is a difference in merely being happy and being joyful. Happiness comes from without, but joy comes from within. These folks were happy, taking pleasure in the moment, but they were also joyful, which is long lasting. The Florida chapter is throwing a blog party and its New Jersey counterpart will have a lovely luncheon with a special speaker and music presentation. I encourage you to not go light on the fun, food, and frivolity. After all, the whole of this ministry is dedicated to you women who have endured mourning accompanied by many tears. Take to heart Nehemiah's words: "Do not mourn or weep...Go your way, enjoy choice food (don't even think of counting calories) and sweet drinks...for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Congratulations to FNF, its blog, and each of you ladies who minister to each other faithfully month after month! God is celebrating with you.
Reflection: If you are reading this blog and have not asked the Jesus of the Bible to become your Lord and Savior, I implore you to do so now. If you long for a lasting joy in your life, I ask you to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life made available to you through His death and resurrection. Jesus Christ himself said that if you come to Him, you will become a child of God and a joint heir with Him in all the wonderful things that God has prepared for those that trust in Him. It is the best decision you will ever make.