By Lucy Nichols
We have previously spent some time contemplating Covid
Conflict and how we heal going forward, looking at Ephesians. As a people, the
Body of Christ has been impacted by the traumas and the conflict that we have
experienced during the pandemic. There have been many issues that have divided
us during this time ranging from politics, to vaccines, to masks, to our
economy, just to name a few. It is important not to stop at healing, but to
grow and to rebuild individually and together in Christ, being strengthened by
and trusting in God. As we have just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus
Christ who died for our sins, what better time to talk about how we can rebuild
and become stronger through difficult times.
What does this look like?
At our church, we have been studying the book of Nehemiah for the last few months, completing all thirteen chapters. This Old Testament account is about so much more than the physical rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem, which had laid in ruin for 142 years and were rebuilt in just 52 days. This is remarkable of course, but it is not the full story.
Nehemiah is also a story about the need for God’s people to be restored and to be rebuilt from their sinful and broken selves. When Nehemiah learned that those who survived the exile living back in the province were in great trouble and disgrace and that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down (its gates had been burnt with fire), he sat down and wept.Nehemiah mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven, and he prayed this:
Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses (Nehemiah 1:3-7).
God always keeps his covenant with us, despite our sinful nature and our repeatedly breaking our promises to Him. We confess our sins and shortcomings to God and ask for His forgiveness as a part of our fresh start. During Covid, as we were being tested in so many ways, most of us at some point behaved in ways that did not bring honor to God. Our stress, worry, anxiety, conflict, and range of difficult emotions were at an all-time high for what seemed like a period with no end in sight. Some of us have suffered trauma and it was a very difficult season.
The good news is that we have entered a new season. It is spring. We just went through Holy Week.
It is a time for rebuilding and being made new and to be reminded of God’s constant and unfailing love for His children. Throughout our lives, there will be times of rebuilding for a variety of reasons: Loss of a job, divorce, illness, loss of a loved one, a child going off to college, political discord, and a worldwide pandemic.
Rebuilding is not possible without God’s strengthening us. God assures us in Isaiah 41:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Just as God never abandoned the Jews, he has not abandoned us. There will be times when we sin, when we are apathetic, when we break our promises to God, and when we are disobedient and unfaithful. Nehemiah reminds us of God’s unfailing love for His children and His forgiveness of our sins.
We celebrate with great joy our rebuilding season just as
God’s people did at the dedication ceremony when the wall of Jerusalem was
complete and the people returned to start anew and rebuild their lives. There was great joy and a new hope throughout
Jerusalem. And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because
God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be
heard far away (Nehemiah 12:43)
Now it is time for us to rejoice with great joy in this season of rebuilding..
Please let us know how you are rebuilding and where you are finding joy during this new season by commenting on this article.