Today’s Scripture: Nehemiah 8-10
He has sent me to…provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. – Isaiah 61:1,3
Did you know that the chemical composition of tears is affected by what makes us cry? Tears of frustration have a different composition than tears of grief or joy. And some kinds of crying are better for us than others.
In today’s passage, we have the beautiful lesson that God can turn our tears of mourning into tears of joy. When Ezra read the book of the Law, the record says the people wept. And at that point, Nehemiah moved into the picture and challenged them to receive the Word with joy.
When Nehemiah saw the people weeping, he told them to rejoice, remembering that the joy of the Lord was their strength. Then he told them to send portions of food to those for whom nothing was prepared.
When I consider my giving to the Lord’s work, I think of Nehemiah and the people of God in this situation. They began with tears as they heard the reading of God’s Law and sensed their own need. As they experienced the grace and forgiveness of God, their tears were turned to joy. And out of that joy, they were challenged to give generously to people in need. What a great picture of God’s gracious dealings with us. From our tears of mourning, God brings tears of joy that overflow in generosity to others.
Lord, thank You for a heart of mourning for my sin and a heart of joy for Your forgiveness. Give me a heart of praise for Your bounty, so that I can share my abundance with others. Amen.
When our sin has been confessed, repented of, and forgiven, our spirit can wear the garment of praise.