The Bible is filled with accounts that could come under the heading of “Mission Impossible”, and the story of Nehemiah is one of them. News of Jerusalem’s destruction reaches Nehemiah, living 800 miles away while serving as cupbearer to the King of Persia.
Hearing the news of Jerusalem in ruins made Nehemiah weep. He stopped eating. He was devastated (Neh. 1:4). But rather than give up all hope for his homeland, Nehemiah turned to God in prayer.
Nehemiah would eventually come up with a comprehensive plan to rebuild Jerusalem, but before pursuing his vision with his people, Nehemiah pursues his vision with his God.
For any Christian who desires to reach a particular destination, for every pastor who longs to see the renewal of a local congregation, the example of Nehemiah is worth mirroring.
The “odds” were stacked against Nehemiah. You can hear his critics:
“Nehemiah, how do you plan to get to Jerusalem–it’s 800+ miles away?”
“Won’t you lose your job as cupbearer to the King?”
“Who is going to help you?”
“Don’t you realize how dangerous the region has become?”
“Nehemiah, don’t you realize that this task is too big for you?”
I think Nehemiah was acutely aware of the obstacles in front of him…and that’s why he prayed.
It was said of Hudson Taylor that the sun never rose for 40 years in China without God finding him on his knees in prayer for the great land.
Reconstruction is hard work—especially when there are those who oppose it.
Nehemiah’s example shows us what is possible when God supports our plan and powers our efforts. Nehemiah is a delightful example of how to pursue a vision in the face of contrary circumstances.
My current context for ministry is Nassau, Bahamas and, while I can’t make a clean comparison between ancient Jerusalem and modern day Nassau, I definitely see a parallel.
Renewal is possible—prosperity is possible, when God is involved. And God’s people have a role to play in that—and that role begins with prayer.
As I said to my congregation recently: “If Nehemiah can do it, we can do it.”
I don’t know your particular circumstances, but if God is for you, who can be against you? If your vision is really God’s vision, you will succeed. Be constant in prayer as you go after your destination. If Nehemiah can do it, you can do it.
“Casting A Vision In Perilous Times”, based on Nehemiah 1, was preached at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk on Sunday, September 25, 2011.