“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our LORD. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
The week after my youngest son’s wedding, I walked around in a post-matrimonial fog. Months of planning were over. The celebration occurred, exceeding every expectation, and my relatives returned home.
I should have been relieved, but instead, I felt weak and weepy. Have you ever been there?
You got the promotion, and now you’re standing at the bottom of a steep learning curve.
The baby’s born, and the sleepless nights stretch endlessly before you.
The house is empty or the job complete, and the season of shifting into a new, unknown role is upon you.
It turns out that life’s completions and celebrations often have the unexpected challenge of weakness on the other side. What’s true for God’s daughters today was also true for His people thousands of years ago.
Our post-celebration emotions are similar to the Israelites in Nehemiah 8. Their hope-filled plans of returning home from exile were accomplished. The rebuilding of Jerusalem began, and then the realities of everyday life set in. Chapter after chapter, Nehemiah recounts the labor, the opposition and the conflict.
Finally, the work on the wall of Jerusalem was done, and the Israelites were released to settle in their own towns. Soon after, however, their leaders called an assembly. Scripture doesn’t tell us why Ezra and Nehemiah decided to convene the people, but because we’re human, we can speculate about their frailty.
When God’s people are weak from the work, He strengthens them.
Nehemiah 8 tells the story. Ezra reads the Book of the Law of Moses, God’s Word to His people, and they respond with appropriate weeping and repentance. But in a beautiful move, the leaders call the people out of weakness and mourning into a new season of celebration and strength.
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength’” (Nehemiah 8:10).
From this story, there are three amazing lessons we can learn to gain strength in our own seasons of weakness.
Strength Comes from God’s Word
God’s Word is always where provision and healing begin. Need peace? It’s found in God’s Word. Require rest? It’s there too. Crave a change of heart? There’s nothing as powerful as God’s truth to accomplish it.
Interacting with God’s Word always results in strength because He reveals Himself and meets our needs there.
Strength Comes from Joy
God is the faithful source of everything, and true joy always flows from having a relationship with Him. While despair drains us, joy fills and strengthens us.
Strength Comes from Community
When I close my eyes and picture the scene in Nehemiah 8, a sea of God’s people stands before me. There are men, women and children. There are leaders and citizens. There are Levites and laypeople. No matter their gender, age or station, they had one purpose — glorifying God by living as His chosen people.
The saying is true. There is strength in numbers.
Seasons of celebration are often followed by fatigue, but our strong God is always there to pick us up. His Word, the joy of His Spirit and the community He’s built around us strengthen and help us back into the life to which He’s called us.
Lord, in seasons of weakness I will turn to Your Word, Your joy and Your community as sources of strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Joel 3:10, “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, ‘I am strong!’” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NIV)
Amy Carroll’s new book, Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well., co-authored with Cheri Gregory, is chock-full of practical steps to help you move from running-on-empty to a soul-satisfied life. Pick up a copy today!
Exhale author Amy Carroll and her co-author, Cheri Gregory, believe that dynamic, permanent change happens in the support, encouragement and accountability of community. Visit Amy’s blog today to find out about the group study resources for Exhale, and enter to win a free Leader’s Guide, Study Guide and 10 books for your community group.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Do you feel weak or strong in your current season?
If you feel strong, journal a prayer of praise to God for His provision. If you feel weak, turn to Him and journal a prayer of petition to be strengthened. Leverage the strength of community by inviting a friend to coffee (or enjoy anything else you’d like to do together).
Join the conversation! We’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s devotion.
© 2019 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.