A whole nation fell and they couldn’t get up. They’d lost their identity, history, faith, livelihood, even their language. The walls of their city lay in piles of rubble, its gates broken. Nehemiah, a builder and Ezra, a priest became the leaders of this broken-hearted nation. The few Jewish families who made it back to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, struggled with depression and debt.
Then, Nehemiah, full of zeal, returned to Jerusalem to lead in rebuilding its gates and walls. Under his leadership, the people worked hard from morning till night, dogged by rumors and evil plots concocted by evil men.
The day came when Jerusalem’s few citizens gathered to hear Ezra read from the books of Moses. When they heard the words, they wept like babies. The reason for their tears? They understood what it had cost them as a nation to give up their faith in God.
I shed tears for them as I read this. Too many troubles, too many enemies, their spirits shattered, their sense of who they were and where they belonged lost. It’s hard to identify with a whole nation of broken hearts but we can identify with individual broken hearts.
The day Ezra began to read the scriptures to them, the people started to heal. The words gave them back their identity. It encouraged them. As the people wept, the leaders cautioned them. “This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Have you fallen and you can’t get up? Turn your heart to God and to the scriptures. You may not feel the joy right away but that’s the moment joy begins. And with the joy, strength returns, little by little each day.
God specializes in the ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ department. I hope you’ll read the story of Nehemiah and love it like I do.