“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV)
As we drove to church this morning, I asked Irv some questions regarding “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” I know my joy is from the Lord, and not things or circumstances. We’re enduring life because of Jesus, yet I don’t FEEL STRONG these days, or even these past years.
2006 brought grief that Jesus carried us through, and these recent days are tiresome and full of change as we make choices to be obedient to Christ and follow Him.
Today, November 9th, marks the first day that our sweet Tucker has lived more “earth days” with Jesus, than with us. Significant to my heart. I rejoice for Tucker being in eternity with Jesus, yet my mommy heart misses him so much.
As we finished our drive to church, I pondered that this strength Nehemiah is referring to is not a feeling. Jesus is enough, without anything else. The joy is from clinging to Him, and it is the strength that carries us through our faith journey. We don’t have to FEEL the strength, it just is.
I was blessed to be in church today. Wonderful worship. Wonderful preaching… direct into my heart.
As pastor taught, the the Holy Spirit reminded me of God’s great faithfulness in my life.
1) The practice of thankfulness
When life crashed down on me, as I suffocated in grief and despair, in the mud and the mire, God met me like never before. I flashed back: curled into a ball on the floor of my bedroom closet, desiring death and Heaven, gasping for air as I cried and cried. No words, only prayers of moans, with the occasional words “Help me Jesus”. (Now, I call these grief attacks help-me-Jesus-prayers.)
After pouring out all that I had before the Lord, He gently prodded me to be thankful. This repeated occasion after occasion. As I would gain my ability to speak, I would speak out loud everything I was thankful for. I didn’t want to live, and there was not a thankful thought in my body. However, the Holy Spirit helped me… “thank you for these shoes, thank you for these clothes, thank you for my toilet, thank you for….” What began as thanking Him for what was visibly before my eyes, transformed into noticing His provisions of every detail for our family’s needs, God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness, His presence, His power. Speaking words of thankfulness out loud transformed my heart, mind, and miraculously brought my spirit joy amidst the pain. This is a great lesson that I try to carry with me – the practice of stopping amidst the craziness of life and speaking my thankfulness to the Lord. It is miraculous.
2) I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth
I cried as Pastor shared his heart today about his children’s salvation. He cried. I was moved. The gentleman behind me was sobbing. I cried as I agreed and remembered the reality in my heart.
Two weeks before Tucker died, we went to the movie theater to view “The End of the Spear”. As the credits rolled, I sobbed. I spoke to the Lord and those around me: “This is what I am raising my boys for. Not for Harvard, but to serve Jesus with their lives. If they become a young missionary and die, serving Christ, Heaven bound, what greater hope can I have for them? For my boys to give their lives for Christ!” I was greatly moved, and reminded of my greatest goal.
Approximately two weeks after Tucker died, during a grief attack in my closet, conversing with Jesus in help-me-Jesus-prayer-style, the Lord suddenly reminded me of the movie and my prayer / comment. “This Lord? This is not what I meant! He as only here for almost 3 years!” I prayed. The Lord comforted my soul with Psalm 40:3b “Many will see, and fear, and put their trust in the Lord”. My prayer in that movie theater, for Tucker’s eternity had been answered. Although my heart ached, I could trust God and rejoice in the truth that Tucker was in Heaven because of Jesus, and his short life was glorifying the Lord, just as I prayed for only weeks before. Great is His faithfulness!
I cried tears today as I thanked the Lord for Tucker being safe in the arms of Jesus. I cried tears for my other four little men (and another on the way)…. may they accept and fall under the grace of Jesus, keep their hearts tender toward the Lord, and be great warriors for Christ. Oh, there is no greater hope or joy!
3) gospel of grace
I cried and thanked the Lord for His gospel of grace. I am thankful to hear it preached from the pulpit week after week. I need to hear it. I pray for all the ears and hearts it pierces, that they too will rejoice and say YES to Him.
When we arrived home, I found my weekly missionary newsletter from the Smiths in my inbox. More hugs from the Lord and reminders of His faithfulness. Scriptures that pierced and comforted my heart: His word does not return void! His ways and thoughts are so much higher than mine! Lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge Him and He will direct my paths! Then, for the first time since it was read at Tucker’s funeral…. I saw the poem, He Maketh No Mistake at the bottom of her email. All a reminder and gift to me today, from Jesus.
HE MAKETH NO MISTAKE
My Father’s way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.
The night be dark and it may seem,
That day will never break,
I’ll pin my faith my all in HIM,
He maketh no mistake.
There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight far too dim.
But come what may, I’ll simply trust
And leave it ALL to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift, And plain it all He’ll make
Through all the way, though dark to me
He Made not ONE mistake.
Felt led to share my ramblings of praise and thankfulness.