This is the one-hundred-sixtieth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
“And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” Nehemiah 2:18
In a 1910 speech titled, Citizenship in the Republic, Teddy Roosevelt uttered these words: The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who…at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Nehemiah knew what it meant to “dare greatly.” To rebuild and restore anything is never easy—it takes courage, resiliency, and the commitment to take risks. Rebuilding the city walls of Jerusalem required a team that understood the realities and that was committed to do what needed to be done—no matter what. Only after Nehemiah told his team “of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also the words that the king had spoken to me,” did the whole group say, “Let us rise up and build” and the text goes on: So they strengthened their hands for the good work. The word used in Hebrew for strengthened is chazaq, the same word used in other places in the Old Testament for courage, a kind of courage infused with strength, stamina, endurance, perseverance, and fortitude. Rebuilding and restoring requires nothing less.
No sooner had Nehemiah and his colleagues committed themselves to “rise up and build,” when the attacks of the opposition began–Sanballat and Tobiah’s jeers and scornful words: “What is this thing you are doing?” Nehemiah’s response to his attackers is nothing short of deep faith in God: “The God of Heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build…” Nehemiah’s experience reminds us that in the challenging but hopeful tasks of rebuilding and restoring—no matter what it is—courage is not only a prerequisite, but we need others who are courageous, who “strengthen their hands,” to walk with us. And together, “we rise up and (re)build.” That brings hope, so dare greatly and take courage as you rebuild.
Is there some “rebuilding” that God wants you to be about for which you need faith to “dare greatly”?
[If you believe this series will be helpful, this is the perfect time to forward this to a friend, a group, or a congregation, and tell them they too may sign up for the weekly emails here]
Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.