Celebrate Joy

Monday, January 09, 2012 Posted by Anitra Elmore

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“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV

I love this verse. I almost want to hang it on my refrigerator and sign the Lord’s name to it as a license to overindulge. Who doesn’t want a legitimate excuse  to “eat the fat” and “drink the sweet?” I can totally picture myself telling my husband, “the Bible says I can!”

But, if I read pass that invitation to fatten up, I end up with another reason this verse is refrigerator-worthy. It’s a solid reminder that today (and everyday) is a great day to celebrate because choosing to be joyful has powerful ramifications. 

I’ve recited this verse thousands of times, assuming that when I’m joyful, I become strong. I suppose that does happen, but I recently discovered that the real meaning of the verse is that joy actually IS the strength, and strength is not simply a result of having joy. If my Strong’s dictionary is correct, the Hebrew word used here for “strength” literally means a place of safety, protection and refuge; a stronghold or fortress; a rock. If I reframe it that way, it’s not so much that joy takes my weakness away, but that even if I’m weak, there is safety and refuge in His joy. I then, don’t have to celebrate my way to strength. Instead, I celebrate myself into a safe place where my own strength doesn’t matter much because I’m protected. Make sense?

That somehow takes a little pressure off of me, especially during those times I’m hanging out at the party hugging the wall. So, here’s my revised version of the verse:

“Grab a burger, a coke and a sundae, and pick up a value meal for a friend—the Lord has big plans for the day. Instead of being sad or depressed, go ahead and celebrate because the joy you have in the Lord will protect you and be a place of refuge from the trouble around you.”

Feel free to hang it on the refrigerator…


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