Nehemiah was overjoyed for a visit from his brother, but his joy quickly dissipated after he asked about Jerusalem. With a downcast face, Hanani quietly uttered things like “great trouble” and “disgrace” and “shame.” He told Nehemiah the wall around Jerusalem had broken down, its gates destroyed.
Nehemiah wept. For days he mourned, fasted, and prayed. And then, by the grace of God, he was given permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. All would be well! God had cleared the way, so surely Nehemiah would skip around, wave a few hammers, and everything would be miraculously transformed, right?!
That’s not the way the story goes. After Nehemiah inspected the crumbled wall, enemies surrounded him, mocking and ridiculing his plans. They were called “feeble” as insults were thrown at them. Even so, the people continued to rebuild. The enemies closed in even closer, until the builders were forced to work with one hand and carry a sword with the other. As Nehemiah looked around him at those working hard to restore the wall of Jerusalem, all while protecting the people inside, he told them, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14).
Do not be afraid.
Remember the Lord.
Fight for your family.
Those words resonate so deeply with me. No, I’m not physically rebuilding a wall while wielding a sword at actual enemies—I’m confident I wouldn’t have the skills to keep myself alive for 30 seconds if that were the case. However, as I’ve sat typing these words, my Bible wide open as I read the story over and over, tears cloud my vision.
This is exactly what it feels like in my soul. Maybe it’s like that for you, too?
When the enemy is closing in, we have a choice to make: Will we listen to the constant voice of the critic? Will we let the negativity loop through our thoughts and words? Or will we listen to the voice of God who strengthens us, who tells us to not be afraid, and to keep on fighting?
These are days of rebuilding, though it’s not as easy as we once thought it would be. These are days of keeping a hand on our swords, swiftly defeating the voice of the enemy who would like nothing more than to defeat us. These are days where we need God to show up, in His greatness and awesomeness, to remind us that our strength comes from Him alone.