Week 49 Tuesday

Tears and Joy

Today’s scripture selection: Nehemiah 5-9

Key verses: Nehemiah 8:1

“All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate.  They told Ezra the teacher of the law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.”

When the people were finally settled back home, after years of captivity and restoring their homeland; they gathered for a very special service.  Ezra, who had led the spiritual revival of the nation during these years, did the reading.  And the people wept when they heard it.  They realized how far they were from obeying the laws recorded there.

But then Ezra, and Nehemiah the governor, told the people “This day is holy to the LORD your God.  Do not mourn or weep.”  It was time to finally celebrate, even as they re-dedicated themselves to following God’s instruction for them.

It strikes me that there is this combination of tears and joy at this important juncture in the people’s history.  In our lives, it’s good that there is a similar balance.

On the one hand, when we realize we are far from God’s wishes for us, it should sadden us and bring us to prayerful repentance.

On the other hand, when we realize how gracious God has been to us over the years; helping us when we couldn’t help ourselves; never giving up on us – well, that is cause for real joy.

So, right now, whether you are more inclined to cry or sing; whether you feel close to God or far from Him – remember – God loves you and is as close by as His Word.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your ever present guidance that at times leads us to tearful repentance; at other times leads us to joyful laughter.  AMEN.

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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