What We Can Learn From Nehemiah About Rebuilding Your Broken World
By: William Vanderbloemen October 7, 2020
Pastors, your role at this time is not easy. There is so much brokenness and unrest in the world right now. Between a global pandemic, racial injustice, civil unrest, natural disasters, and a polarizing election, it’s hard not to feel broken right now. Know that it is okay to cry, it is okay to be broken, it is okay not to know what is coming next. But, know you are not alone in this. Much like you, Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding a broken world. Here are things we can learn from Nehemiah’s story that will hopefully offer you some encouragement as we seek to rebuild our broken world.
Let Your Heart Break, Shed Some Tears
In the book of Nehemiah, we find Nemehiah broken and crying. God’s city had been overtaken by a foreign government, but Nehemiah wasn’t crying over this - he was crying over a broken part of the wall. Considering everything that was happening in Nehemiah’s world, the broken part of the wall seemed to be the smallest possible thing he could be broken over - yet this was the cause of his tears.
We, much like Nehemiah, may be broken over something that is seemingly small in comparison to everything else going on around us. Maybe there is a wall in your city that is broken, maybe you are broken over being out of shape from a lack of routine, or maybe you are broken by not being able to enjoy a cup of coffee and donuts with your congregation. No matter the reason you are broken or how small it may seem, know it is okay to cry.
Not only is it okay to cry, but it may be necessary in order to move toward action, and even more so, it may be the humble response God needs from you in order to work in your situation. Nehemiah’s world only started to come back together when he cried. Let your heart break and shed some tears. God hears our cries and knows our broken heart. God counts our tears and keeps them bottled. The scriptures are clear, the sacrifice God wants is a broken heart.
Your world will not rebuild until you’re able to offer your tears and let your heart break. Crying over what breaks your heart right now, even the smallest things, is a step toward healing. It’s a step toward release of control and submission to God’s plan.
Look To The End And Know We Are In A Comedy, Not A Tragedy
After crying, the next thing we see Nehemiah doing is praying. The first thing Nehemiah prays for is forgiveness for himself and his family. This is seemingly out of place as we don’t know of anything specific that Nehemiah is repenting for. This prayer shows that Nehemiah is looking toward the future judgment rather than his current situation.
In The Comedy of Redemption by Dr. Ralph Wood, Dr. Wood explains that in all of Shakespeare’s plays the audience did not know if they were in a tragedy or a comedy until the third act, or the crux of the play. In this act, the audience is finally able to determine whether the play will have a tragic ending or if everything will be okay in the end.
In the story of the world, the crux of the play was the cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection made it clear that we are not in a tragedy, we are in a comedy. In the end, we know who wins and we know that everything will be okay. At the end of the day, we are still Jesus’ choice and the church is still his bride.
As we continue to face the uncertainty and heartbreak of this season, we can have the hope that in the end, everything will be okay. It is okay to cry right now, but don’t become a victim. Just as Nehemiah’s example shows us, continue to look toward the end of the story and remember that everything will be okay in the end. As you focus on the end of the story, you will find the strength to carry you through today and a bright hope for tomorrow.
The First Proactive Step To Rebuilding Our World Is A Reactive Step To Prayer
The next thing we see in Nehemiah’s story is that Nehemiah’s first proactive step was a reactive step to prayer. As Nehemiah’s world is crumbling and he begins trying to rebuild, we see him take time to spend time with God in prayer. Nehemiah knows that God is the only one who can rebuild his world and he turns to Him before doing anything else.
Over and over again in the Bible, we see Jesus retreating and taking time to spend in prayer. Let him be an example to you in this season and take this time to retreat and pray. Consider starting your day with prayer and letting the first thing you take in be words from God and the first thing you let out be words to God.
When in your life have you ever had so much time to pray? Right now, as we face so much heartbreak, we also have so much more time that we can spend with God. We are having to endure hardship after hardship, but the only way we will be able to rebuild is to make our first proactive step a reactive step to prayer.
Look For Unprecedented Resources
After spending time in prayer, we see Nehemiah steps into action. Nehemiah turns to a foreign king and asks him to help rebuild his world. It was unprecedented and unexpected that a foreign king would play a role in rebuilding the city of God, yet he does.
Consider what unprecedented and unexpected resources God may be giving you to help rebuild your world. For example, when PPP loans began to be offered to churches, many worried about the implications of using government funds for churches. Yet, just as the city of God was funded by a foreign king, maybe our churches using government funds was a step toward rebuilding our world.
Having spent time in prayer and receiving the necessary resources, Nehemiah is now able to rebuild. Nehemiah is unable to do this on his own, so he seeks volunteers for help. The first people who begin to rebuild and defend the city are the priests. The priests were able to rebuild the city in record time - just 26 days. Even trained builders would not have been able to rebuild that quickly.
If these priests were not trained to rebuild the city, why did Nehemiah ask them for help first? The answer is simple - because they were the ones willing. As you rebuild your world, don’t look for those who are qualified, look for the unexpected people that are called and willing. The people God is using to rebuild right now are the ones who will be leading in the future.
As you continue to rebuild, ask yourself what unprecedented and unexpected resources you can use. Have you looked everywhere? Have you looked outside the church? Who in your church have you overlooked before but God is calling now? Ask God to send something unexpected to help rebuild.
Recognize The People That Are Doing Things
After the city is rebuilt, the next thing Nehemiah does is write down the names of everyone who helped. While we often look over the passages in scripture that seem to be just a list of names, these names are in there because they played a role in the work of God.
Be sure to write down the names of those who are helping you rebuild. People are lonely and longing for personal connection. Recognize your people and reach out to them. Who in your congregation could you write a personalized note to? Who could you call right now? The Bible says it is not good for man to be alone. This pandemic has made us all feel alone. Reach out to your people intentionally and personally.
Believe That God Can Get More Done Than You Think
The story of Nehemiah shows God doing big things in unexpected ways. The same God that was with Nehemiah is with us today and He is still doing big things. As you rebuild and walk through this difficult season, remember that God can and will do more than you could ever imagine.
This is a difficult season to lead. Know that God sees the work you are doing and He is smiling. As you walk through this time of heartbreak and rebuilding, we are here for you and we are praying for you. Please reach out to us if there is anything we can do to help you.