By Pam Watson
I love the book of Nehemiah. One man with a heart to serve God and His people led the restoration of the city of Jerusalem. Restoration is a key word for us as a church. There are many people who stand in the midst of rubble who are waiting for lovers and servants to stand with them and declare, “Let us rise and build” (Nehemiah 2:18).
Building again after the “desolation of many generations” can be a daunting task but one we are not meant to do alone. The Lord has promised to be with us to rebuild our lives and restore what the enemy has stolen. He also places us within a family of believers that we may be strengthened and encouraged in our journey.
The book of Nehemiah was written after the return of God’s people from captivity. They had returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple but the city itself was still in ruins. This Old Testament narrative is a picture of the rebuilding of our lives after we come to the Lord. We have given our hearts to the Lord and love and serve Him, but our lives are still a mess. In the midst of our brokenness we feel vulnerable, plundered and shamed.
Like the people of Nehemiah’s day we can become discouraged. They looked at the task before them and the rubble that lay around them and believed rebuilding was too hard and would take too long. They easily listened to the lies of the enemy that told them they were useless, beyond help and nothing they could build would last. Ever been there? Ever heard the devil taunt you with the list of your failures, incomplete projects, failed attempts and forgotten dreams?
Nehemiah, whose name means “God has comforted” is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who not only lives within us but comes along side of us to comfort and aid. The Holy Spirit is not just coming along for the ride, and wondering if we are going to make it. He is God with us and in us. He is our Comforter and our Strength. He is the One who will enable us to rise and build.
Like Nehemiah of old, the Holy Spirit reminds us that God is with us and we are well able (Nehemiah 2:18, Numbers 13:30). What has defeated us in the past does not need to defeat us in the now. Our past does not determine our future. Our God is a God of restoration. He has promised to restore lost years and lost opportunities (Joel 2:25).
Under the leadership of Nehemiah the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in just 52 days. This is an amazing feat. One of the keys to their success was they never let go of their sword or spear (Nehemiah 4:17). Sometimes when the battle is long or the work is hard we are tempted to put down our sword and forget the promises that have been spoken over our lives. Weapons are made for war. The promises in the Word and the prophecies we have received are to equip us for the battle. Let’s not forget to use them.
Secondly each family made repairs in front of their own house (Nehemiah 3:10; 28-30). All we need to do is start where we are at. Just deal with what is in front of you. Sometimes we think we have to go somewhere and do something grand and forget that it starts with making a success of living right where we are, with the people we love and those we care for.
It is also within the context of family we are strengthened and encouraged to build. We need the encouragement of others and the gentle reminder of truths that our hearts have forgotten. When we build alone, it becomes long and hard and we easily give up, become discouraged and defeated. That is why God puts the solitary in families. As a family, let’s start rebuilding walls and seeing lives restored.