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In the opening pages of Nehemiah, we hear horrible news: Jerusalem is in ruins. We can see how much a crisis this is for the people of Israel in Nehemiah’s reaction. He not only weeps, fasts, and prays, but he works up the courage to go to the King who sends him to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls around the city.
Upon arriving, Nehemiah surveys the scene before recruiting those in the city to join in rebuilding. In the story, we see that it was not simply a matter of city defenses, but a statement about God and his people. In his prayer in 1:4-11, Nehemiah repents of how Israel had been unfaithful and calls upon God to hear and respond to their need.
In walking through this passage, three features of Nehemiah’s response are helpful for us when we’re faced with a crisis.
First, Nehemiah’s initial reaction was to mourn and pray for God’s provision. In times of trial, our first instinct is often to act in our own strength. Moreover, we can belittle or minimize our emotions of pain and frustration. Yet Nehemiah turns his mourning towards God in prayer to seek him rather than dismiss it as unimportant or wrong.
Second, notice that upon arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah sets to work recognizing that it is time to “rise up and build.” Times of crisis and trial can sometimes freeze us with inaction. Yet Nehemiah recognizes that God has set him on mission and likewise calls others to join him. That ought to be our focus as well.
Finally, when Nehemiah is confronted by opposition, he does not allow them to distract from his objective. Rather, he recognizes the opposition for what it is and reorients back to what God has called him to do.
Throughout the passage, we see a powerful example of responding to the difficult seasons of life. Beginning with mourning and prayer, we need to move out on mission and fend off those who attempt to distract us from God’s calling.
How have you responded in times of trial and difficulty?
How can you be a light to others during times of anxiety and fear?