In the book of Nehemiah, Israel has returned from Babylonian captivity to find Jerusalem in ruins. Ezra, a well-respected priest, and Nehemiah, the governor, join forces in the physical restoration of the city and the temple, as well as the spiritual restoration of the Jewish people. Men, women, and children gather in the square, standing for hours as they hear the scriptures of the Law read and interpreted. Faces turned downward, their tears falling to the ground, they weep as they grasp how far off-course they, as a people, had wandered.
Have you ever had an experience when a passage of scripture convicted you, causing you to feel a sense of guilt or shame? According to Nehemiah, we should not become mired in shame. Instead, we should celebrate God’s grace and find joy that the Lord gives us the strength to try again, to do better, to be drawn into a deeper understanding of how God would have us be in the world.
Today, offer a prayer of confession to God and find comfort in Nehemiah’s pronouncement of grace: “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”