As unrest fills our screens, anxiety can fill the heart. Hard news, deep anger, and desperation regularly flood our social media. If not careful, one’s emotions will gravitate towards negativity and anxiety from the burdens of this world.
However, as a believer, we can have joy though living in a society filled with anxiety.
Nehemiah 8:10b (ESV) reads, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” This statement was proclaimed about 50 years after the Israelites were allowed to return from their 70 years of captivity in Babylonia. Humanly speaking, they had reason to live with fear and anxiety. Even as they gained the freedom to return home, only a small percentage made the long trek back. Once in their country, they faced more unrest because of their now war-torn land and hostile neighbors. Protective city walls needed rebuilding. Homes needed repair. Hearts needed mending.
This group of Israelites gathered to hear God’s Word. A priest named Ezra read aloud a large portion of the Bible to them. As the children of Israel listened to the Word of God, they were convicted and began to weep.
Nehemiah and Ezra encouraged the hearts of God’s people by explaining that this is not a time of weeping. This is a time to celebrate because the people of God now had the Bible and were worshipping God. At this moment, Nehemiah stood and declared, “The Joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Friends, this same joy is available to each of us as believers when we feel unrest, anxiety, and loss. We, too, must listen to God’s word. We, too, must confess any sin. We, too, can receive the same Biblical joy. This joy is different from the world’s happiness. It is an understanding of the promises of God. It is a deep trust in Christ and His goodness regardless of what is happening in the society around us. Biblical joy is the confidence to follow Him and press forward.
Rick Warren defines this joy as: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
God gives His people an unexplainable hope because He is our joy. We can have His assurance because He is in control of the details of our life. From this trust in the Lord and His goodness, we can live with peace.
Friends, though the media might scare you, though our society is filled with anxiety, live with joy. The truth is that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”