This morning I smiled as I read this verse in my Bible reading, it is of my favourite verses in scripture. The first time I encountered it was over twenty years ago, I was at a huge Bible camp near Malvern in England. That week was a great time of teaching and blessing in my life. I had always struggled with the weight of pain in my life, from bullying and my own failings as a sinner. I felt deeply unworthy before a Holy God. I remember in the morning prayer tent one day an unknown brother approached me and gave me this verse as a word of knowledge, he prayed briefly with me and then he was gone. I never met him again, but the verse has stayed with me. It has shaped my outlook on life since that morning.
It was not God’s will that I lived my life in perpetual mourning over my past, nor is it His will for you either. The verse in Nehemiah comes at a time of repentance when God’s people returned to Him with much weeping. But their mourning was to be replaced with joy in the LORD God of Heaven. It is God’s will for us to have joy in our lives today.
No one in my view has described it better than that old saint of God F.B. Meyer in his commentary on Nehemiah: “There is nothing which weakens us so much as does unrestrained remorse. Contriteness of heart is wholesome and helpful, but excessive grief incapacitates us of our duties. It is well therefore to cultivate holy joy; the joy of sin forgiven, of acceptance with God, of hope that anchors us to the unseen, and that cannot be ashamed. You may not be able to joy in yourself or your surroundings, but you may always rejoice in the Lord.”
I say no more dear reader, other than rejoice in your acceptance by Almighty God. Put on your favourite hymns or worship songs and have a praise party!