READ : Nehemiah 2:1-6
In North America I see more sad than happy faces. When I observe people at work, shoppers in the mall, or even children at play, there is little laughter. I wonder why. Is it because of fear, an emptiness, rebellion, or even stubborn rugged individualism?
Sadness is a drag on us. It blurs hope. We are robbed of attractiveness. Life becomes a drudgery.
Nehemiah had a long face while performing his duties as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. The king saw it immediately. Nehemiah was sad because the city of Jerusalem was buried in rubble and his people were in exile. He wanted to go home and rebuild the city.
The city of New York and our entire country was catapulted into sadness on September 11, 2001. The planes ripping through the towers is forever etched in our memories. We live with the possibility of another attack.
Sadness is not replaced by a forced smile. We need something more. Nehemiah received a pass from the King to go to Jerusalem. God has a gift for us. Instead of ashes he promises a crown of beauty. Instead of mourning, the oil of gladness. Instead of a spirit of despair, a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3).
Heavenly Father, exchange my sadness for joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.