When people are seeking prayer, it’s often the case that their hearts are heavy from some burden. In some situations, like job loss, overwhelming debt or financial uncertainty, people can feel a sense of guilt or unworthiness that brings despair. In these moments, it’s hard to imagine that joy would be accessible to them. So it was in the days of Ezra when he was asked to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses and read it to the people of Israel who had previously rebelled against God. Upon hearing the law and realizing how badly they had sinned against God, the people wept in great sorrow.
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8:8-10
Here we find this amazing proclamation that we can find renewed strength in the joy that comes from the Lord Himself. In praying to the Father on behalf of the people, Jesus also made reference to this same joy in His High Priestly Prayer:
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” -John 17:13
Everyone can find joy in the midst of guilt and despair, if only they remember how gracious and forgiving our Lord is. Let us remind ourselves and those for whom we pray to claim the joy of the Lord for themselves.
How have you found joy in the Lord despite financial ups and downs? Leave a comment below and catch up on Sunday’s message “Don’t Quit Your Day Job."