For this week’s Firmly Rooted Friday, Claudia shares how the power of joy helps her battle the loneliness she feels following a move far from her previous Battle Buddies.

The Power of Joy

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10b ESV

When you are weary from the battle the joy that only comes from the Lord will be your strength. A supernatural strength that is necessary for you to complete the task you have been handed. This is a glorious thought but how real is it? Let’s chat about Nehemiah for a few minutes.

Nehemiah inquired of the state of Jerusalem and learned that the walls and the gates were destroyed and he wept at the news. Nehemiah prayed for the favor of the king he served so he could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls and the gates and it was granted so Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to build. He was met with opposition and some meant to kill him to stop the work. 

Tools for Building and Fighting

As you continue to read through the entire book of Nehemiah you will find him leading the people to strategically rebuild the walls and the gates together. This was important because of the opposition. They were not like the seven dwarfs, there was no whistling while they worked. There was more of a battle going down when they were working. 

“Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.”

Nehemiah 4:17-18 ESV

Not much has changed since the time of Nehemiah. We are still kingdom-building every day and there is still much opposition to the building. So, saints, we must hold our tools at the ready. One for warfare and one for building. I often tell myself, “Claudia if you feel like you are in a battle, you are. Now stand and fight.” As women associated with the military, we are very familiar with warfare. Either by personal experience on the battlefield or as a dependent watching and waiting on the home front. It all feels the same, a fight is going down somewhere and we are in it. 

Together Even When Far Apart

This year in Planting Roots our theme is Growing Together. That word together is a strong bond, like super glue. We were created for relationships and trust me some of the greatest relationships are forged in the fire of battle. Nehemiah encouraged those who were building the wall with these words: 

“And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Nehemiah 4:19-20

Doesn’t this sound very familiar? Far apart is what the military does best. 

I take this command to heart especially when I am facing the opposition of loneliness. Four years ago, we moved to a smallish college town, where I only knew one person and I had no posse. You know, that shoe shopping friend, the one who knows your heart without you even speaking. Not having her close by left such a hole in my heart. Making the loneliness so profound that on some days I felt like I could actually hear my heart breaking. I can remember asking God, “Where are my people? Where is my posse?” 

Either that day or soon after a note and a little gift arrived in the mail from a sweet friend. I didn’t even realize she had my new address. I could almost hear the voice of God speak, “You are far apart on the wall, but I sounded the alarm and she ran to meet you!” Don’t you just love the word of God! It never fails, ever to bring us back from the brink of despair. 

Sound the Alarm

As I continued to work my way through the book of Nehemiah, I saw how strength wove itself around each verse. Never before did I realize how much joy would be a natural product of waring, building and trusting a faithful God to deliver what he has already promised. Nehemiah had a burden from the Lord to rebuild the walls and gates of the city of Jerusalem. No easy task but by Chapter 8 we see the warriors standing in a fortified city hearing as the priest read the book of the law. Taking them all back to the main reason we build God’s kingdom on earth, to worship. It is in the middle of their weeping that the word of God is spoken.

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10b ESV

It was on the other side of the battle and victory that God declared, it was the joy of the day not yet seen that gave you strength. I don’t know about you but it is really hard for me to see anything in the fire of battle. But, God says, “look and see.” That is a truth that will capture our hearts again and again as we sound the alarm in our own lives as well as responding to the alarms that are being sounded in our hearing. 

The Power of Joy Comes From God

How amazing that our strength is found in the joy that only God can provide? Take heart sweet sister the Growing Together is not just another catchphrase; it is the Bible. How will you respond to the call? Embrace it or move around it? 

I wish I could say that I no longer feel the ache of loneliness but that would not be true. I still struggle with loneliness. Even though I know more people now, I still miss my posse from before. Praise God the sands of our lives are constantly changing and shifting. So I am able to see them from time to time. When I am feeling low I remember the words of Nehemiah, “ for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” and I continue to stand. 

Praying you experience the power of joy with the Lord as your strength until we meet back here once again.

Firmly Rooted