April 29, 2016

Nehemiah 6:9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

I like Nehemiah! Prayer was such an integral part of his life that he didn’t bother with formalities at all. The NIV supplies, “But I prayed,” in brackets, but that’s not part of the original text. I get the impression this book was written somewhat like a diary, with him recording day by day what had gone on. As he wrote down the efforts of their enemies to stop them, his immediate response was to ask God for strength. He was operating in the style of people of God down through history, people who have been totally aware that God is present, He is interested, and He is in control. We tend to slip up on one or more of those points a great deal of the time. When we don’t feel God, we tend to think He isn’t there, but that’s a mistake. Any failure there is on our side. Psalm 139 is a magnificent exposition of this point by David, who certainly knew it first hand. But then, many people are so wounded by their life experiences that they have trouble believing God really cares. Such people are never to be condemned, but they need people around them to be “Jesus with skin on” to demonstrate God’s concern in ways they can recognize it. Finally, practically all of us, at one time or another, have trouble believing God really has the power to deal with everything that is going on. God has had to deal with that in His people countless times throughout history, from Abraham (Genesis 18:14) to Moses (Exodus 4:10-12) to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:27) to Mary (Luke 1:37) and many more. It is only when we get those three factors firm in our hearts and minds that we can walk in the peace and joy that God intends for us.

This is my struggle as well. Like Nehemiah, I pray at all sorts of times in all sorts of ways, aware that God hears everything I say, either verbally or in my heart. I enjoy that, and wouldn’t give it up for a moment. However, I still have times of distress and even depression, when I look too hard at the temporal world around me. For example, I very strongly want a candidate for president that I can vote for in good conscience, but from a human perspective that is looking less likely. Letting that depress me is foolish, because God is still God! In her devotions just yesterday my wife wrote a Word from the Lord for me, about keeping my focus on the Lord rather than on human newscasters and analysts. My concern is the very real possibility that America is under God’s judgment, and so will receive again the leader they are asking for, as they did eight years ago. I pray that is not the case, but even if it is, God is still God, and I need to trust Him. There are other issues closer to home, but there too God is still God, and I must never forget it. He has made it clear to me that He wants me to rest, relax, and rejoice, so failure to do so is disobedience.

Father, I ask Your forgiveness for my anxious heart. You have given me every reason to trust You, and yet I waver. Thank You that You don’t waver! Help me keep growing in faith and obedience, to be and do all that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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