Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)
Then he said to them, “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.”
We all need strength. The Pilgrims needed strength to survive in the New World in “Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale.”
The Jews, who returned from captivity in Babylon and rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, needed strength to overcome their fear after Ezra read the Law that God had given them, which they had failed to keep. So, Nehemiah offered them joyous strength.
Where do we find that strength that flows from joy?
Well, Paul in I Corinthians 11:23-27 says that one place we find it is by doing what Jesus called us to do: to remember his redemptive sacrifice for us in the act of breaking bread and partaking of wine in communion. Paul is telling us to give thanks that Jesus Christ set us free.
The early Greek-speaking Christians called the communion the Great Thanksgiving or the “Eucharist” in Greek. The Greek word “Eucharist” is made up of three little words like those Russian dolls within a doll within a doll. Inside “eucharist” is the Greek word “charis,” which means “gift” as in “charisma.” The heart of the word “charis” is the word “char,” which means “joy.”
In other words, the strength of the “joy of the Lord” is found in thanksgiving, not in weeping about what you did not do as the Jews were doing according to Nehemiah. The “joy of the Lord” is a gift that you get when you’re giving thanks that Jesus did what you could not: fulfilled the law to set you free.
This is the joyous strength that the Pilgrims found when they celebrated the first Thanksgiving with their Native American neighbors.
Where can you find the “joy of the Lord” that gives you the strength to do what God has called you to do? By giving thanks for Jesus’s death and resurrection on the cross, which set you free to live a more abundant life.
Do you need strength to face today and tomorrow? A good place to start is to give thanks to receive the “joy of the Lord,” as we do as believers in the Great Thanksgiving.
Dear Lord, we want to give You thanks for everyone and everything in our life, and for all the blessings You have bestowed on us in Jesus Christ’s Name by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.