The people of Judah were exiled to Babylon when the city of Jerusalem was sacked by Nebuchadnezzar. He came in and plundered and destroyed the Temple. The people of Judah were exiled for 70 years before the Persians allowed them to go back to rebuild their nation.
They first rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and then restored the altar. As they were consecrating the altar, they read the Book of the Law and people were weeping. It was at this point that Nehemiah spoke to the people.
It was supposed to be a joyful occasion but people were weeping. One can only speculate why they were weeping. Was it out of sorrow that they realized how much they had lost? Further in the book one reads the prayer where they admitted that they were still slaves in the land where they were supposed to be free.
The beginning of Judaism as we know it is recorded in this book. It shows how God used the exile in Babylon to form his people and teach them to worship only the One True God.
The world is a messy place. One only needs to look at the papers and see this. Since we live in a messy world and we are sinful, we are bound to suffer and experience a lot of pain in our lives. Yet, as Christians, we believe in the triumph of our God in the challenges we face.
Our lives may be a mess, but there is always forgiveness. When we turn to God, he will heal us and help us rebuild our lives, just as he restored his people helped them rebuild the fallen city.
Some may think there is no hope for them, that they are so messed up that nothing can fix their situation. This was also how the people of Judah felt. Yet, God proved true to his promise. He called his people back. Not only did he bring them back, he had their enemies pay for the expenses of rebuilding the walls and altar.
This is why Christians are marked by the joy that radiate from their lives.We believe there is always redemption no matter how hopeless the situation. God is alive. He is Almighty. He is in control. In the misery and hopelessness of the cross, God broke through and won victory over death. This is what gives us confidence that God will save us.
As Nehemiah said, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Our strength does not lie in our own power. It lies in the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is not an emotion, but it is a state that results from us coming before the presence of God in humility and trust.
Lord Jesus, I come before you and offer my life. Take Lord and make my miserable life into one that will glorify your name for you are a Mighty God who loves me and makes all things new because nothing is impossible to you. Thank you Lord. I trust in you.