COLLINS COLUMN: Nehemiah’s Encouragement for Today’s Challenges

Published 9:00 am Friday, June 21, 2024

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Right after Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them his peace, he made it clear that in this world they would indeed have trouble. And all of us who are following Jesus know that this was not only true for the first followers of Jesus; it is true for all of us.

You can read most any book in the Bible and find that those whom God called and those who were acting in obedience to their calling often found themselves in trouble. Sometimes it was trouble from their peers in the faith community. Sometimes it was trouble brought about by enemies who sought to wage war against them. Sometimes it was clear that outsiders were jealous of their success, and sometimes they dealt with the trouble of apparent scarcity.

Nehemiah felt the burden of hearing that Jerusalem was in a horrible state of destruction, and he prayed to the Lord that God might use him to rebuild the walls of the city. Backed by the king and filled with faith, he went to Jerusalem to start his work of restoration.

We all know that God’s work of renewal and restoration of all things continues even today. He calls us to open our eyes to see the broken lives and places around us, and by the power of his Holy Spirit in us, he calls us to share the good news of Jesus and to join him in doing the work of kingdom restoration in places all around us.

As we seek to fulfill God’s call in our lives, we do so remembering that Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble. When Nehemiah saw Jerusalem, he acknowledged that there was too much rubble. How many times have you thought the same as you tried to do the work God has called you to do? Sometimes the amount of broken people and broken systems around us can feel and look overwhelming. And honestly, they often are too much for us to figure out or resolve.

Nehemiah declared to those around him, both to his partners in ministry and in earshot of his enemies, “Our God will fight for us!” Jesus said to his disciples and us something similar when he said that we should take heart because he has overcome the world.

No matter what you and I may face today. No matter how much rubble there is to sort through. No matter how many enemies stand in the way of progress. No matter how big the hole or great the burden, we can cling to the eternal truth found in scripture. Our God will fight for us. Jesus did the hard work of sacrificing his very life, that the enemy of God was defeated. God’s word is true that we can call on him in our day of trouble, and he will rescue us.

There will be trouble, and God will provide us the strength to face the challenges of this day, the wisdom to know the next step to take, and by his Spirit, he will accomplish his perfect will in our lives. It won’t always look like we think it should, and the outcomes may be different than we imagined. But our good, good Father will lead us and provide for us as we obediently trust him and do the work he called us to do.

Father, thank you that no matter what problems or troubles we might face today, we can rest in the peace of Christ and in the victory of Christ over the enemy and over sin and death. We ask you to fill us with your Spirit, grant us your wisdom, and lead us to victory today. In Jesus’ name, amen.