Today's devotional was written by Roberta Tucker Brosius. We were roommates in college, when she was Legolas to my Gimli, many moons ago. We've been published together in a couple of books as well.
There’s so much about Nehemiah I admire, but Darlene has advised me to pick just one thing from chapters 4 – 7 in his book . So I won’t write about Nehemiah’s ability to encourage others when he should have been discouraged himself. Nor will I expound on his discernment in recognizing evil in both foes and frenemies. I won’t gush about his total investment of time, money, and self to achieve his goal of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls after Judah’s exile.
Instead I’ll share some thoughts about Nehemiah’s strategy, because I think you and I should adopt it.
I like the style of the book of Nehemiah; it seems to be his personal journal. He’ll spend a few paragraphs recounting all the craziness and frustration he’s experiencing and then suddenly he’ll write a prayer.
He had “pray without ceasing” mastered centuries before Paul penned it.
When his enemies insulted him and his building project, he prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are despised….” (4:4).
When the same men plotted to stir up trouble, he prayed and increased security personnel (4:9).
After he resolved the conflict between the haves and the have-nots among the returned exiles, he asked God to reward him. (5:19).
When Sanballat (Public Enemy Number One) continued to harass Nehemiah and tried to intimidate him, he prayed for increased strength (6:9).
When Shemaiah (a frenemy) tried to lure Nehemiah to seek sanctuary in the Sanctuary, he saw through this scheme to intimidate him, and asked God to judge all the co-conspirators (6:13 – 14).
Nehemiah writes that those who hauled the materials carried a weapon in one hand and those who built the wall wore swords (5:16 - 18). Nehemiah himself was also continually armed (5:23). His attitude about swords, spears, and arrows extended to prayer, a believer’s spiritual weaponry. His every action was linked to prayer. His every prayer was joined to action. That’s how the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt after 52 days of construction, opposition, conflict, famine, and discouragement.
Since we’re not living in Bible times, can this work for you and me? I’ve seen it happen this year at the small, struggling Christian academy where I teach. We experienced opposition and discouragement, and our pitiful salaries remained the same while our health insurance costs climbed. We came perilously close to shutting the doors forever.
I wasn’t thinking about Nehemiah when we began the school year, but looking back, I think we followed his strategy in our own faltering, imperfect way: We linked our actions to prayer. We joined our prayers to action. God honored both.
BIO: Roberta Tucker Brosius teaches at Watsontown Christian Academy in Pennsylvania, where she recently added a Cults & World Religions course to the Bible curricula she has developed for high school students. She has been published in newspapers, magazines, The Secret Place, and Barbour’s 365-Day Fun Bible Fact Book and Heavenly Humor for the Teacher’s Soul. Visit her blog, “wit, word, & the Word,” at www.robertabrosius.blogspot.com.