Monday, November 21, 2022

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

 The holidays are often the most difficult for a widow. Her sense of loss is keenly felt and she is more aware of her loss than at other times. Perhaps you have found this true in your own experience.

 The 8th chapter of the book of Nehemiah tells the story of the children of Israel rebuilding the wall around the city of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by their enemies. It was hard, arduous work, made harder by the taunting of the enemy which discouraged the people. Ezra, the priest, read the Word of God to them and they began to weep. As widows you, too, have been brought to sorrow and tears over loss in your life. But, though weeping and sorrowing are necessary, they aren’t the last message that God has for you. God had Nehemiah speak to the people saying, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to the Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Then all the people went away to eat and drink…with great joy.” They were obedient to Nehemiah and as a result their joy was restored.

 Did you notice in that verse that Nehemiah urged the people to send portions of food to those who didn’t have? Invariably, that is the result of those who find their lives beginning to heal. They begin to reach out to others. In fact, I believe that reaching out to others is a catalyst to one’s own healing, something that Dotti Ackerman, founder of Friends Needing Friends, has always emphasized.

 In the 13th chapter of Nehemiah we see that, after an absence, Nehemiah returned and found that the people had slipped back into some of their ungodly ways and he set out to restore their faith in and obedience to God. I see his return as a sign of God’s grace and restoration. It is no less true for the

widow. You, too, went through a period of great sorrow after the death of your spouse. You felt like your life would never be normal again. All you could see was aloneness and a feeling of being trapped in a life you didn’t like. Gradually, through the help of friends, family, pastors or priests and perhaps counseling, you gradually began to heal and you found that there was some joy in life again. But now as you approach the holiday season, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s for Americans, you do so with some apprehension, grief and a flood of memories about the “old days” and your time-honored family traditions which always included your husband. Jesus wants to restore you to wholeness and give you a reason to celebrate again just as He did the Israelites. But, just as they, you must choose to focus on what Christ’s life, death, and resurrection have won for you and that is eternal life. Can you do this without Christ’s strength? No! But here is the paradox: The joy of the Lord is your strength. Choose to rejoice, to look at what you have instead of your losses, and look ahead to eternal life with Christ and even your loved one. 

 There are important ways in which celebrations will not, and cannot, ever be the same again. So, it’s okay to plan for them to be different. Thanksgiving, an American holiday, is celebrated in the month of November. It’s a day set aside for families to come together, set aside differences and be thankful for all the blessings of the past year. While menus may vary, traditionally turkey is the main meat with lots of different side dishes and pumpkin pie is at least one of the desserts. For many people, and certainly Christians, it’s a time to thank God for His great love for them, especially the gift of salvation through His son, Christ Jesus. Others of you in other countries celebrate special holidays with customs and traditions too.

 Be realistic about what you can handle, both physically and emotionally on these special occasions. But do celebrate, for this is God’s will for you and you will marvel at the strength He will provide as His joy floods your heart.


Message by Shari Hervold




I don't own any rights to these songs above. It's for entertainment and worship song only. 

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                                    A-DMIT you're a sinner. 
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                                                    through Jesus. 
                                    C-OMMIT to trusting Christ and Christ alone 
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