Text: — Nehemiah 1:1-2 — 1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire. [NIV84]
The Big Idea: Very sad (or even ‘bad’) news in your life—right now—can be but the prompting for a great work the LORD has prepared in advance for you to walk in.
Winters for some are fun. They love the snow and the cold and the bundling up. But for others winters can be cold and dark. Howling wind and biting cold. And yet it is even when things seem the darkest and the coldest, we can receive messages from the Lord. These messages are not necessarily obvious invitations, but they are nonetheless ‘messages’ from the LORD couched in human circumstances.
We discover in v. 1 of the above passage that it takes place in the month of Kislev, which is Nov-Dec in our calendar. We also find Nehemiah at the citadel of Susa, which is the winter palace for the King. While there, Nehemiah receives very sad news: His people are in great trouble and disgrace. Now we who know the rest of the story know that this is merely the prompting for a great work the LORD has prepared in advance for Nehemiah to walk in….
And, Lifestyle worshipers, some very sad (or even ‘bad’) news in your life—right now—can be but the prompting for a great work the Lord has prepared in advance for you to walk in. So how do you receive this news? I know I am often concussioned by any sad or ‘bad’ news. Although I no longer burp out, “Why me,” I still get a gut retching feeling coupled with a weak-kneed wobble….
I often wish my response was like Qui-Gon Jinn’s when he heard about the trouble with the engine of their transport ship: “A solution will shortly present itself.” His confidence in the ‘Good’ of the universe and the Force clearly infused this statement.
But I have to ask myself this same question: How do I respond to sad or even ‘bad’ news? I know we have to read ahead in the Book to see how Nehemiah receives the news, but I truly want to be like him here. He was available to hear the news from his brother, and his heart was open to receiving it, even though it was devastating news. His confidence in the Lord gave him perspective and courage that, “A solution will shortly present itself.” Join me in seeking YHWH’s face as we look with hope to the future through this very sad news. I cannot imagine what the Lord has in store for us? Can you?
Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
— Matthew 6:26 (NIV84)
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
— Ephesians 2:10 (NIV84)
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV84)
Heavenly Father, I wait on You to lead me into the good work You have prepared in advance for me to walk in. Lord Jesus Christ, be courage in me as I take the first steps towards it. In Your Name, Amen.