Read with me, Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10

This is the season to be merry, but if you look around you are sure to find many people who are despondent during this time of year. You yourself might even feel as if there is very little to get excited over right now.  Things might look bleak. While others are anticipating promotions and new houses and have adopted resolutions to usher in different results in the New Year, you might find yourself apprehensively staring at the mounting challenges the next few months might provide. If you are feeling overwhelmed and distressed, I want to ask you today to make a decision for your life and for your family – do not give in to the despair that comes from your circumstances. Make this day holy, choose this day as set apart to Him, for your healing and your hope. Do not grieve today, but be strong in joyful expectation.

Today, I want to share with you amazing news. I want to share with you the information you need to maintain perspective over this time. The good news is He has won. He has conquered. And in your life, He is Lord. He is still the God who can.  He is still the God who saves. He is still the God who provides. He is still the one who has overcome, and will continue to do so. In light of who He is, choose to pursue His heart for you today. If you are feeling weak, allow His joy to come and gird up your legs, strengthen you and equip you for what is ahead. Make today holy, make it about Him.

Over this festive season, make the joy of the Lord your constant habitation. With intention, choose joy. When faced with hard conversations, lean into His grace available at all times, and have joy. I am not saying smile at everyone you would rather dump you colddrink on, I am referring to the true and authentic joy that comes from His heart. The joy that comes from resting in trust, in leaning on Him. Do you still remember He is the God of joy? Do you still remember that His joy is your strength?

 In Afrikaans households you often hear mamma say, “Ag, give me strength,” whenever pappa bothers her or the kids give her grief, not even to mention the neighbours. We know, inside we know, when we are angry and bothered we are weaker. When faced with conflict and confrontation we will often say ‘I don’t have the strength for this.’ My friend, He knows and understands this, He says to you – My joy is your strength. Delight yourself in Him.

Sometimes choosing joy is a deliberate refusal of anger or disappointment, even as they stare you in the face. When the conflict comes and screams red faced and challenging, don’t take the bait. Refuse to engage the lie. Choose the thought that maintains and protects your peace. Not the peace, with everyone – your peace. And see joy as the fruit of your yielding. Pursue the calm that comes from His heart for you. Anger drains us, discouragement feeds on our disappointments, conflict sends us into frenzies that leave us tired and stressed. Hear Him, and remember Him. As you hear Him faith comes and restores your hope. Do not listen to the conflicting opinions that would have you bend over backwards to cope. Just smile and wave. Make this day holy, do not grieve for the joy of the Lord truly is your strength.