As many of you know, last month my grandfather passed away. The days following this, many people reached out to my family, to comfort us. I am so thankful that my family and I have so many people to lean on in times of loss.
In that time of ruin, I thought of our 2023 L2L theme, which was in Nehemiah 2:17-18. This verse reads, “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” This passage speaks about the importance of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and when you look deeper into this verse it also shows how we can strengthen each other.
First, we see that Nehemiah acknowledged the problem. He saw that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins and spoke up about it. Sometimes it’s easy to turn a blind eye to problems that don’t personally affect us. Sometimes we unintentionally cause a problem and don’t want to acknowledge how it may affect others. Nehemiah shows us how important it is to acknowledge an issue and make it our responsibility to fix it. Romans chapter 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We, too, must be willing to recognize issues, acknowledge problems and take steps to address them, because God will ultimately use those resolutions for His glory. In the days that followed my grandfather’s passing, I saw my family rise in the midst of our brokenness. When we build one another up with helping hands, as God commands us to do, we are showing others the heart of our savior, Jesus Christ. In this way, even in the face of intense hardship, we can give glory and praise to God through our actions.
Secondly, Nehemiah communicated a vision. He shared his message with the Israelites and told them what he believed needed to be done. He also spoke about the gracious hand of God, and the support he had received from the king. We must communicate our vision for the church, and know what is needed to accomplish God’s will. For some people, communication may be difficult. But Nehemiah shows us the importance of having a plan of action and encouraging others to join us in executing it. In the same way, we need to have the plan to expand the borders of the kingdom, the wisdom and guidance to rally others, and the love for our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage them to keep building. We must work together, utilizing our unique skills and talents to achieve our goals.
Lastly, God gave Nehemiah strength through joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “And do not be grieved, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength”. This isn’t the only occurrence in the bible that tells us of God’s ability and willingness to strengthen those who show their unwavering love and faith for Him. Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31 says, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” God’s people found joy and strength in building a wall day in and day out. I know for a fact that if I had to build a wall day after day I wouldn’t have that same joy. This strength was not from their bodies but from the power of God. Now if He can give that kind of strength, then I promise you, we can all build each other up, no matter how hard we have to work for it and no matter the circumstances.
Whether it’s supporting a grieving family, having a Bible study, or any other service we need to be prepared to build someone up and let God work in our daily lives. We have many opportunities to spread the Good News through our actions and our words.
I know that’s an area I can personally work harder in. I know there are going to be people in your life that you try to share the gospel with, but despite your efforts, they will completely reject all that God has to offer through Christ. It’s really hard to have the confidence to build someone up who doesn’t know God like we do and doesn’t want to know him. But like Nehemiah, we need to be confident, not in ourselves, but in our Savior.