We image-bearers are always telling the other image-bearers around us what God is like. If we were likened to a delivery company, we might say that our trucks are always loaded and on the road. There are no weekends off, no holiday breaks. We deliver non-stop information about God even if our trucks regularly run into telephone poles.
In Nehemiah 8:10, Ezra and some of the Levites called Israel to celebrate that “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” They had heard the law read and explained and were weeping with conviction. But it was a holy day for the LORD and they were to rejoice.
Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
This verse is worth memorizing for multiple reasons, but it is as hard as it is heartening.
It rouses our interest because we hear that something makes us strong. Where does strength originate? Strength comes from theology proper. We are made strong by knowing that our God is holy and joyful. His Triune gladness is indefatigable–never tired, irrepressible–never hopeless, and unmistakably strong like brewing French Roast in a closet. His joy is, it can’t be knocked over.
If the joy of the Lord is our strength, doesn’t that also mean that when we are not strong in Him, when we will not rejoice, we are making Him out to be wearied, sorrowful, or wobbly? Not that He actually is any of those things, but that is the baggage our behavior delivers. When we show up grouchy (at work, at home after work, at the assembly’s worship, etc.) we are not reflecting His gladness. When we don’t show up at all we reflect a reticent joy, a joy that cannot make anyone strong.
This is a reason why worship is so important. We cannot be strong if He is not glad and we will not see His gladness if we do not draw near to Him in Christ. If we do know His joy, then we will be strong and our trucks will stay away from the poles.