Is God happy? Do you think that God wants you to be happy? Why or why not?
In the Bible, the book of Nehemiah tells the story of how the Hebrews came back to the Promised Land after their exile in Babylon. Do you remember what the Exile was? For 70 years God allowed his people to be captives in a foreign land because of their sin against God.
But now, after the 70 years were over, God allowed his people to return to Israel and to Jerusalem, the holy city of God, where the king’s palace and God’s temple once was. But when they returned the people were very sad because everything had been destroyed by the wicked Babylonians. No temple. No city. No walls. No houses. No palace.
And so Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra, the priest, gathered all the people around them to listen to God’s word, the Bible. They read the stories of Genesis, of creation, and Abraham, and Jacob. They read the stories of Exodus, of the ten plagues, and Passover, and crossing the Red Sea, and about the tabernacle. And they read the laws of God, like the Ten Commandments. And then, after reading the Bible to the people, Nehemiah spoke to them. Listen to what he said:
Nehemiah 8:9-12. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
When Nehemiah read the Bible to the people, they got even sadder because they knew they had been disobeying God. When they heard God’s laws they knew that they hadn’t worshiped God or loved him with all their hearts. And they hadn’t loved each other as God commanded.
But after reading the laws of God to the people, Nehemiah told them to stop being sad. He told them to go home and throw a big happy party. To eat, and drink, and share, and sing, and dance. Why? Shouldn’t we be sad when we realize that we have disobeyed God?
Yes, we should be sad when we disobey God and when we have to be punished for doing wrong things. And we should be sad when bad things happen. But God never wants us to stay sad, he wants our sadness to turn into joy. Nehemiah said it this way: “Do not be grieved (sad) for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
But how can we have joy even when we’ve done bad things? How can we be happy, even when sad things happen?
We can be happy no matter what because of Jesus. We can have God’s joy because we know that even when we sin, we are still loved and forgiven by God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can be happy even when sad things are happening because we know that one day Jesus will make everything OK again. We can be happy because Jesus’ very sad death on the cross turned into his very happy resurrection from the dead. And we know that God is always turning our sad things into happy things too. If not today, then one day when we go to heaven to live with him in a place without any sadness, and only joy!
Because of Jesus I know that everything sad will be made happy.
With Jesus I can be happy knowing that God always loves me no matter what.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Nehemiah told the people to go home and have a party celebrating God’s love and grace. So why not have a celebration together as a family. Eat the age appropriate and modern equivalent of “fat food and sweet wine.” Let the kids choose something fun to do. Talk about how God is full of joy and he wants us to be full of joy knowing that he will always love and forgive us.
And here’s a great song to celebrate with.
You make God happy and you make me happy. Help me to be happy today knowing that you will always love me and forgive me.
To see today’s post from the TLIC Daily blog –> Click Here