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My strength 

Nehemiah's example



Nehemiah ch8 v10


















All was not well...He first spent some time in prayer.









Maintaining joy in our lives can be a difficult thing, especially when circumstances seek to rob us of it. This verse pictured below personalises the words of Nehemiah. Let's look at the circumstances over which he triumphed for a moment.

He was far from home

Nehemiah lived at a time after the nations of Israel and Judah had been exiled for 70 years. Several waves of people returned to resettle the homeland after they were given leave to return. But all was not well with the resettlement.

Nehemiah had heard news which saddened his heart for his people. He himself had not returned to Israel. He was cup-bearer to the king in Susa (ch1 v11), an important job and he had stayed in his post rather than returning with his people to their homeland. On hearing the news that Israel was not resettling well he first spent some time in prayer and then got himself sent to Israel to sort things out. So the situation we find him in at the time of this statement under consideration is far from his home and his safe position next to the king.

He had been under attack

Nehemiah heard about the walls to the city of Jerusalem being in ruins so he set about rebuilding them. This was not at all popular with the people who lived round and about. This would make the nation of Israel strong again and they saw that as a threat. The neighbours set about causing trouble and attacking the Israelites whilst at their work under Nehemiah's supervision.

He had had a huge task to undertake

The task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem had been huge. Nehemiah had voluntarily taken on the leadership of motivating the people to achieve what they had previously failed to do. There were few people to do the building and an urgency to the work. Would it ever be done? Would the people give up leaving Nehemiah looking foolish and down-hearted?

Those around him had been feeling down

The morale of the Israelites was not good when Nehemiah turned up with his grand plans. They had followed him but then they were under attack. Wouldn't it be easier to down tools and have a quiet life?


I wonder if you can see any similarities to your own situation.

And you?

I wonder if you can see any similarities to your own situation. Are there difficulties making your life difficult? Do those about you seem to be dragging you down? Do you feel under attack? Does something seem endless and impossible?

Let's look at where Nehemiah's strength came from in his situation.

He knew his call to God

Nehemiah was a man of faith. His beliefs and knowledge of his position as a Jew had been tested by his being an exile in a foreign land. He lived and worked among people of other faiths and he had remained faithful to God.

He knew his purpose

Nehemiah's response to hearing the news that his homeland was not being resettled successfully had immediately touched his heart (Nehemiah ch1 v4 & ch2 v12). He wanted to do something about it and he spent "some days" praying and fasting. He knew what needed to be done and he asked God for success (Ch 2 v4-5) in allowing him to be sent by the king (Ch2 v6) to rebuild the city walls.

He lived the spiritual in the midst of the natural

Nehemiah didn't just face the situation and say, "Hey, you lot, this is disgraceful that the walls of Jerusalem are in ruins. Let's do something about it". Right up front he already had a story to tell the people of what God had been doing to get him to this point (Ch2 v18). With every problem he turned to prayer (eg ch4 v4) He righted every wrong where he had influence (eg ch5 v1-13). Nehemiah practiced what he believed.


This work had been done with the help of our God.

He triumphed

I can't say it better than the Bible its self. "So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God."

And you again

Look at each of the four titles immediately above. Do you need to think through each of them in your life situations? Is  there any situation where you feel you are struggling to triumph? Maybe you will allow me to pray through it with you. Contact me through the home page and tell me about it.

If there is something you particularly struggle to celebrate over, maybe the prayer below can be a new start to finding God's way forward.

Loving Heavenly Father,

Like Nehemiah we face many tough challenges. Sometimes the way forward is not clear and our motivation is weak or exhausted. Come close today and show me the way forward. Something I particularly struggle to celebrate over is...

Teach me to triumph as Nehemiah did. 


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This article Linda Faber 2006-2009.