Finishing the first 8 chapters of Nehemiah brought a reminder of some lessons that I had recorded last year (when I read through the book about a year ago). The lessons are still appropriate, and quite possibly I am more than ever aware of the importance.
In Nehemiah, the word shows up four times.
(1) “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.” (1:10)
God’s strength is great. This has to be the place to start for me too. God’s strength is infinite. There isn’t anything that he cannot do. He never becomes weary. He never gets tired.
(2) “The strength of the laborers is giving out.” (4:10)
Our strength is small. Nehemiah knew that the pressure from opposition was for this very purpose, to diminish their strength and their resolve. My strength gives out very quickly, not something that I can depend on (let alone others who think they could depend on my strength). My strength is finite, has a limit, and that limitation is great (rather than my strength being great).
(3) “But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” (6:9)
We can only call out for God’s strength. Nehemiah realized this and goes to God. This has to be my day to day life. Over and over going to God and asking for his strength to carry me.
Then the fourth instance, which I again read today. The context to chapter 8 (and verse 10) is important to grasp.
Ezra reads the law to the people who gather with one thing in mind apparently (8:1): to hear the Word. For half the day, they listen to the law being read and explained. “The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.”
The reaction to hearing the Word, according to 8:6, “they worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” As they realized how they did not measure up to the truth that they were hearing, “all the people wept (8:9).”
Nehemiah interjects at this point, and says that this is not a day for weeping, not a day for remorse over the past, not a day to grieve…then, the fourth mention of “strength”…
(4) “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8: 10)…
GOD IMPARTS HIS STRENGTH THROUGH JOY.
In the context of Nehemiah, don’t regret or let past drag you down, rejoice in the present and the hope of the future. Through that joy of knowing God, you will be strengthened.