“You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.”
Changing seasons bring transition, and for most of us, change is hard. I heard this years ago and have forgotten where it came from, but it’s truth.
“When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, you’ll move.”
For Nehemiah, late autumn of 446 B.C. brought word that his people in Judah were not well. They were in trouble and disgrace. Their safety had been destroyed; they were vulnerable and suffering.
Nehemiah’s natural response was sadness. But his emotion led to action and to the development of a worthy project that eventually outlasted him.
I see three things in Nehemiah’s story to encourage and guide me in my own season of change.
- Pray. Nehemiah started with prayer. He cried, he mourned, he fasted. All the emotion led him to talking with the God of heaven, the God who could actually do something about the situation. In prayer we recognize who is doing the work .
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13)
Nehemiah didn’t just pray once. He prayed for four months before he ever talked to anyone about the plan God had given him. He prayed in the face of opposition (Nehemiah 4:4). His internal spiritual life allowed him to lead God’s people in corporate fasting and prayer, confession of sin, repentance, and a significant commitment to change in their day-to-day lives.
- Build. Nothing worth building is ever accomplished alone. Whatever your project is, a ministry effort, a family, a relationship… you are going to need a team. The team God helped Nehemiah build included a Persian king, governors, army officers, chariots, city officials, Jewish leaders, priests, and people from all walks of life. Today we have a community of faith to draw from and we are designed to work together as the church, the body of Christ.
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow,
so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16)
Working together is not easy. But it is a worthwhile endeavor. God is brought glory because it is his mighty power working within us to accomplish more than we might ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
- Persevere. You will face opposition. God’s people faced opposition when they began the project He gave them. Nehemiah had to overcome obstacles even before he faced the building work. He went through a process of building his team. When the actual work started, other men were angry, mocking them. Then it became necessary to actually labor with one hand on the work and one hand wielding a weapon.
“We carried our weapons with us at all times….” (Nehemiah 4:23)
Talk about stressful! But the Scripture is clear to tell us we have a real enemy. We are engaged in a real battle.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
But we also fight this battle with supernatural weapons.
“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning
and to destroy false arguments.”(2 Corinthians 10:4)
Persevere in your prayer, in your building, in your battle. Ask God to demolish the strongholds, places where it can seem sin has a hold on God’s people.
When we want something that lasts, we need to be equipped with powerful tools. Steadfast prayer. Enduring commitment to build. Unwavering perseverance.