"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." - Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
Have you ever contemplated on the meaning of these words: "for the joy of the Lord is your strength?" I have and I have been wrestling with the meaning of this for many years.
Recently we could tell that both our boys were taking unusual strain in the areas of their self-esteem and self-confidence. Knowing their background (Garitha and I are the proud parents of an adopted set of twin-boys whom we received from the Lord within hours of their birth) , a good friend and Christian psychologist suggested that we have them crawl through a spandex-tunnel; a tunnel-like apparatus made of colourful cloth and often used in occupational and play-therapy for the emotional healing of small children. The idea, as I understood it, was to emulate them moving through the birth-canal of their mother. This time, however, with a farther in much anticipation of their arrival waiting at the other end.The exercise entailed Garitha and I standing at each end of the "tunnel". Whilst she opened the tunnel and allowed one boy at a time to enter, I had to verbally encourage the little "tunneller" to progress towards the opening where I was waiting. Part of my task was to show much joy and elation upon him showing up my end. I'm still not sure who enjoyed this the most; mom, the twins or me. What I do know, however, is that it made a profound and immediate impact on the resilience and self-confidence levels of both boys.
Reflecting on the impact of this "therapeutic exercise" some days later, it dawned on me that what we had experienced was indeed the message of Nehemiah 8:10! I had previously overlooked a crucial element in this statement by Nehemiah: .."The joy OF the Lord is my strength"! In other words, our strength is not derived from us enjoying Him, but from Him enjoying us!
As fathers we are uniquely set-up to mirror the heart of God to our children; especially during pregnancy and shortly after birth. Our born and even pre-born children are programmed to subconsciously scrutinize every move and utterance we make for clues to their value and intrinsic worth. When they detect our true elation in them, they feel valued and self-confident. If the contrary is discerned, however, uncertainty and belittlement settles in, leaving them vulnerable and weak.
What happened to our boys that evening was a re-enactment of their birthing process.This time around, however, they heard the voice and saw the face they should have, but didn't during the actual event – that of their delight-filled father!
Somehow this experience leaves a mental imprint so vivid and so inviting, that it creates a powerful pull towards its re-enactment. When faith does eventually come and spiritual eyes are opened, it is the same imprint, the image of a Father taking absolute delight in his child, that becomes the source of our strength!
Have you ever wondered why some manage to overcome and be victorious amidst some of the toughest issues life can throw at them? Look no further; their souls carry the imprint of their Father taking delight in them!