"Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!" Nehemiah 8:10
After two years, the praying, waiting, hoping, longing will cease as I return to Africa this summer. (Okay, so the praying will continue but the focus of my prayers will change.)
The decision to return to Africa proved difficult. Over and over I questioned, How can I willingly leave my young family behind for an extended period of time?
Telling the kiddos nearly broke my heart . . . and theirs. One of our daughters ran out of the room crying. Seriously. I thought, How can I do this to them? The answer?
The joy of the Lord gives us strength.
In Nehemiah's day, hope had just begun to emerge for God's people. After seventy years of exile the remnant of Israel could finally return home. Under Nehemiah's leadership dedicated workers rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. People once again filled the land. To commemorate their new beginning the Israelites gathered in the town square while Ezra the priest read aloud the Book of the Law of Moses (what you and I know as the first five books of the Bible).
As they listened to God's Word, sadness and despair overcame God's people. The revealing of how God wanted them to live ignited godly sorrow as all Israel considered how they had lived. Nehemiah encouraged the people, “Go and celebrate with a
feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with
people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord.
Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Part of me felt dejected and sad when God made clear His desire for my life. I knew it would prove hard to obey all God had asked my family to do. But I need not despair. God takes great pleasure in our obedience (1 Samuel 15:22). Though the task which lies before me seems hard, I find strength knowing my obedience will bring the Lord great joy.
In his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, "If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him." (see January 11)
As I return to Africa I need not feel dejected and sad over the thought of leaving my family behind. The same God who takes
care of me will supply all my family's needs from His glorious riches, which
have been given to us in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). I can respond like the people in Nehemiah's day who, "went away to eat and drink
at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great
joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them." (Nehemiah 8:12)
What has God asked you to do? Do not despair. Simply obey. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength.
If you would like to make an impact on the life of a woman half-way around the world, consider making a donation toward the cost of our work in Africa.
- $26 will purchase a study Bible in the local dialect
- $50 will help cover the cost for one woman to attend a two-week Bible training conference
- a donation of any amount will help cover the cost of translators, printed materials, food distribution for the women (rice, eggs, beans and potatoes), as well as facility expenses