“If your baby lives he will be severely disabled. He won’t walk or talk or acknowledge you.”
The doctor left and I sat without expression.
When the words finally sank in, I cried without comfort.
Prayed and asked why.
It was the destruction of a dream.
The dream of the baby and life I planned.
When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Nehemiah reacts to the news of Jerusalem’s destruction.
The city he loves lies in ruin, it’s people scattered and disgraced.
Ruin and rubble.
Promised land in peril.
Desert dreams dashed.
I’ve been there – oh how I’ve been there.
It’s a gut punch.
Comes out of nowhere and suddenly I’m thrust out of water, a fish on land gasping for air attempting to breathe in the foreignness of a new reality.
A reality I didn’t want or create.
Struggling to believe God’s plans are ultimately and eternally good when everything seems to tilt and go dark.
Gripping worn thin faith tightly I’m suddenly very aware I don’t want God’s will or way….I want mine.
My way where babies never get sick and love doesn’t hurt.
My way where a close friend, a dear friend’s cancer is cured – here on earth, not in Heaven.
My way where children don’t starve and everyone has enough.
My ways in my human way of thinking seem so much better.
Nehemiah doesn’t do that.
Instead of lamenting and asking God, “why?” He grieves the loss, fasts and prays.
Nehemiah asks the whats and hows – not why.
He asks God, “now what?”
He aligns himself with God’s will and purpose instead of feeling bitter or depressed about the circumstances.
Nehemiah begins with prayer.
After the initial grief and shock, Nehemiah prays. He asks the Lord to hear him and confesses his sin of ignoring the Lord’s commands.
He asks the Lord to grant him favor with the king.
He trusts God’s character and praises His faithfulness:
Because of Your great compassion You did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. Nehemiah 9:19
He reminds God of His promises and asks in prayer for blessing and success in rebuilding.
He doesn’t hide his feelings.
The trial reveals the truth.
The truth of what I believe.
Do I really trust God?
Do I walk it out with Him or go my own way, handle it myself then question where God is?
Nehemiah digs in.
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
Nehemiah is working hard to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. God put the task on his heart, provided supplies and workers but opposition came hard.
Surrounding cities saw the rebuilding as a threat and decided it wasn’t in their best interest for Jerusalem to be strengthened and secured. They used fear and intimidation, threatened physical harm to discourage the workers.
The threat was real but Nehemiah leaned into God and prayed for strength.
He didn’t allow the opposition to discourage him.
Nehemiah was committed to God and his mission.
He trusted God to help him in the midst of threat and trial.
When things don’t go as planned or I experience opposition and hardship, do I quit or dig deeper, believing the vision God gave me?
Do I walk by faith when the fog creeps in and I can’t see clearly?
Nehemiah acknowledged reality.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah. Nehemiah 4:16
The threat was real – lives were at stake.
Nehemiah didn’t deny what’s happening.
He trusted God and took action.
He didn’t put his head in the sand or passively hope things work out.
Nehemiah trusted the Lord to keep them safe or see them through the battle.
He acknowledged and dealt with what is going on while trusting God with whatever comes next.
The opposition, threats and intimidation don’t cause Nehemiah to shrink back or question the Lord’s will.
He didn’t ask, “Where are you, Lord?”
He suited up, took precautions and trusted God with the outcome.
Nehemiah worked hard.
The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobels would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. Nehemiah 3:5
Rebuilding the wall wasn’t easy, it required a willingness to work.
Nehemiah held a white collar job.
As the king’s cup bearer, he held a position of honor and respect.
He ate at the king’s table.
Nehemiah didn’t consider himself above physical labor or getting his hands dirty.
He didn’t put it off or pray about timing.
He assessed the situation, shared his vision, recruited co-laborers and went to work.
Nehemiah gave God the glory.
When this massive undertaking was accomplished and Jerusalem’s walls were rebuilt, Nehemiah gave glory to God.
He never wavered in the project was about God, for God and accomplished with God.
Rebuilding the walls witnessed to both the Lord’s existence and His faithfulness.
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16
God cares more about the people than the project.
Whatever is going on, He uses it to accomplish something – in me and others involved.
God strengthens what’s good and works on weaknesses.
Trials are tests.
A test of what’s true.
A test to see what needs shored up, rebuilt or removed.
A test to strengthen and cause growth.
It brings me closer or farther from Jesus.
Nehemiah at any point could have become discouraged and given up.
• The task is too large, too hard.
• There’s too much opposition – someone might get hurt.
• There’s so much going wrong, it can’t be God’s will.
Instead, Nehemiah begins with prayer, digs in, acknowledges and adjusts for reality, trusts God and works hard.
He perseveres through hardship, pushes against opposition, trusts God with the outcome and gives God the glory.
The baby whose birth changed my life is now 29 years old. Being his mom hasn’t been easy – there are days even now I want to quit – it feels too hard.
But God in His faithfulness used that baby to demonstrate His love, provision and goodness.
He uses Joey’s life to show me who He is and draw me near.
It’s humbling He trusts me with this precious soul on loan to an earthly, imperfect mom who doesn’t always get it right.
What I first saw as devastation, was in fact, renovation.
Glory to God, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Thank you, Lord for Your Word – the truth of who You are and how to handle all life’s situations. There’s nothing you can’t do. Help me to walk with integrity as a follower of Christ. Help me follow the pattern laid down by your servant Nehemiah in how I navigate difficult roads through ways that honor You. When I whine and put my head in the sand it says you aren’t big enough. It says I don’t trust you. Forgive me. Forgive my unbelief. Grow and conform me to Your image so others may know You. Thank you that You are faithful, slow to anger, full of compassion. Thank you that you never give up on me or become disgusted by my lack of faith. You love me unconditionally and encourage me to try again. Thank you for trials that bring me closer to You and who You call me to be. I love you, Jesus. In Your precious, Holy Name, Amen.