I have been pondering what it means to have ‘a time for joy’ and wonder is there a time for us to set aside our sorrows, our burdens, our heaviness and just ‘joy’?
Not that in any way I am saying we should skip over any grieving period for the loss of loved ones, or other trauma in our lives. But do we get so set in our ways of being ‘heavy laden’ that we never shake that off to rejoice or have joy in the Lord?
In reading through the book of Nehemiah, I see the exiles returned, the temple restored, and the walls rebuilt. The Book of the Law was then read and what did the people want to do, but weep and mourn [Chapter 8]. Yet it was to be a day of rejoicing!!. God had done so much for them! God had actually done what the peoples around had thought impossible in the restoring of the temple and the city walls in such a short space of time and despite opposition! God showed His greatness. God showed His covenant love towards them, it was a time to rejoice!
But like the Israelites are we so busy looking back at past mistakes and bound by past sorrows, that we can’t shake them off to look and see what God has actually done for us and rejoice in Him?
So, is there a time just to put those sorrows aside, to take off our mourning garments and instead put on the spirit of joy? Is there a time to stop our mourning, our sorrows, our sadnesses, our hurts and look up to God and rejoice?
It may not be an easy thing to do, our sadness may weigh heavy on us, we may have so long worn the ‘spirit of heaviness’ that we don’t know what we would do without it, we may even feel exposed, vulnerable without it. It is what we hide behind, it is our identity. So how can we put those things aside?
And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength [Nehemiah 8:10]
Even in this we don’t have to do it alone; God is with us, His joy is our strength, it is His joy which will enable us to put aside our sorrows, it is His joy which will be our strength as we rise up from our place of mourning, it is His joy which will then cover us, clothe us, it is His joy which will strengthen us and allow us to worship and to praise.
Perhaps for you, for me, today is a day when the time is right not to mourn, not to weep, but rather to rejoice, to dance, to sing, to praise. Perhaps it is the season to take off that garment of heaviness and in its place by covered by the garment of Praise to the Lord.