THe Joy of the Lord will be my strength

The joy of the Lord will be your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Cheryl and I were praying together this morning, and one of the Scriptures we read reminded me of a song sung by the Medical Mission Sisters. It was in the 1960’s and their music was always filled with such joy. In fact, simple, childlike joy was a hallmark of the renewal movement in the 1960’s. I actually began to weep as I wondered why we see so little joy these days.

Amid this pandemic, joy seems scarce. We might even feel insensitive or crass if we openly expressed joy. There is so much trouble, so much sadness. But life was not all peaches and cream when Nehemiah made the promise given above. “The joy of the Lord will be your strength.”

Israel had been exiled from their homeland for 70 years. A few were allowed to return under Nehemiah’s leadership to rebuild Jerusalem from the rubble. He was maligned by those who did not want Jerusalem rebuilt and so he was arrested and tried for treason. When he began rebuilding the walls, he was daily attacked by those opposed, so the builders had to keep swords with them as they worked, always ready to defend the project. But he encouraged the people, “The joy of the Lord will be your strength.”

Could simple, childlike joy be the key to strength in our time as well?

Here are a few suggestions about how to get back to joy.

  • Watch less news. In the 1960’s the news was only on for 30 minutes a day. Somehow we didn’t seem to miss it.
  • Listen to uplifting music that praises God. Yes, the Medical Mission Sister still publish CD’s.
  • Get together with others to pray, praise, and support each other.
  • Attend the daily live stream Mass or at least read the daily readings as part of your prayer time.
  • Sing. It is good for your body and your soul. Just keep a safe social distance when singing.

Remember, it is God who is in control of this universe. Not Covid. Not government health agencies. Every Sunday we celebrate Christ who conquered death. So, let’s celebrate with joy.

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