Facing change and adversity can be difficult. I was drawn to read Nehemiah’s story again because I knew that he was called to a difficult task with support along with significant opposition. A new adventure creates new rules, new people, and a new way of doing. Say goodbye to automaticity and hello to the learning curve.
Nehemiah was so drawn to the call that his passion carried him during the most difficult times. He faced accusations, ridicule, mockery, and threats to his physical safety. As many negatives that were reported in this book, there were also positives–hardworking people, supporters of the vision, and the right people at the right time to offer encouragement. How can we be that person in someone’s life? How can we respond with warm-heartedness? Nehemiah left his job as cupbearer to the king to rebuild Jerusalem. In an instant, he was a spiritual leader, administrator, construction foreman, and cheerleader.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
As hard as the opposition can be, we must learn from Nehemiah. We move forward with confidence and courage in the God who called us to the task.
How do we deal with contempt?
I listened to a lecture on contempt versus anger by Arthur Brooks from Harvard Kennedy School. In our world today, we see and hear contempt–the feeling that person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn. Instead of solution focused discussions or considering our part, we dismiss with contempt. If it’s not done our way or we are in a “bad place” we judge and project our hurt onto others. In this lecture, the solution to contempt was a warm-hearted response.
Hard to do but so freeing when we practice.
When you are in that hard place, and maybe you are rehearsing the contempt in your mind, remember not only authentic warm-heartedness responses but also
For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.” Psalm 27:5
You may be in the thick of it, but imagine yourself anchored and out of reach in the arms of Jesus. Trust God to make the difference and to bring peace in His time.
In closing, I’d love to share a beautiful flower arrangement created from the rubble of my office clean out. I came home to my mother taking a bunch of flowers from the boxes and recreating something beautiful. The flowers represent my past, my present, and my future. My mother has always quoted, “Bloom where you are planted.” I’ve carried this advice with me throughout my journey. Where God calls, He provides. Bloom in the beauty of His provision, love, and peace.