How to Pick Up the Pieces After a Downfall
Today is 9/11. For most us, 20 years ago 9/11 was just another date, but that changed in 2001 after two Boeing 767s plowed into the Twin Towers in New York City. Those buildings graced the skyline of New York City for nearly 30 years and were the tallest buildings in the world. That is, until September 11, 2001, when they both became just a pile of rubble. That became known as ground zero and it was a grim reminder of the attack, the loss, devastation, and the pain.
The crumbled structures could not remain a part of the scene and it took eight months of cleanup and recovery. Former Mayor Rudy Guilliani confidently, and with determination stated, “We will rebuild.”
After more than a decade, they did.
Time after time in life we find ourselves having to rebuild from ground zero because trouble crashes our joy and we get burned with disappointments. We must rebuild from ground zero because we emotionally and spiritually collapse after constantly trying to be strong. But we must rebuild.
Nehemiah demonstrates what it takes to rebuild from ground zero. His brother and some fellow Jews visited him in Susa from Judah. He asked them how things were going in Jerusalem and how the Jews were making it. (Jerusalem is an ancient city in Judah). The men told Nehemiah that things are not well because the remnant who are there and survived the exile, are in great trouble and shame. The wall is still torn down; it’s a pile of rubble and the city gates are charred. It’s ground zero.
This news broke Nehemiah’s heart and he sat down and wept. Why? Jerusalem’s wall is destroyed so there’s no security in the city and that broken-down wall serves as a shameful reminder that God had fulfilled the covenant curses because of His people’s sins. Second of all, Nehemiah knows that ever since God brought his people out of Egypt so that they could worship him and ever since God ascended to dwell in the temple at Jerusalem, God has intended for his people to live in his land and worship him as those who love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and might. That’s not what was happening. Nehemiah was driven to help, and he had a divine plan to rebuild from ground zero. His plan included rebuilding the wall and the Jews.
Here’s what we can learn from Nehemiah:
He knew who to turn to. Before he got to Jerusalem, he prayed. In order to rebuild from ground zero, we must pray. Who do you turn to when you have a broken heart? Nehemiah turns to God, asks him to deal with the trouble and shame, to make Jerusalem a place where He would dwell with His people in such a way that would demonstrate and declare His goodness and glory to the nations, he prayed for success in getting permission and help from King Artaxerxes in rebuilding the wall and he confesses sin on behalf of the people. God answered his prayers and the king gave him permission to go to Jerusalem.
When he got there, he invited others to join him with the rebuilding. We often run into trouble with rebuilding because we are prideful, and we try to rebuild on our own. We want to be the hero of the outcome. We don’t want to reach out to others sometimes for fear of rejection. Other times because we are ashamed that we are at ground zero and we’d rather not anyone know about. Sometimes we try to take on too much and the rebuilding that probably could’ve only taken us a few days takes us a few weeks or the rebuilding that could’ve taken us a few weeks takes us a few months and what could’ve taken us a few months, takes us a few years. Nehemiah rode around that city and saw that there was plenty of work to be done. He invited others to help him. When we are at ground zero in our personal lives, we are often too low to help ourselves come up and it is necessary to get help. Help for us may be from a friend, counselor, psychiatrist, pastor, mentor, physician, social worker or other individual who can help us through the process. Because Nehemiah asked for help, it took 52 days to rebuild a wall that had been abandoned for 100 years.
Rebuilding does not come without opposition. Even in your excitement and enthusiasm and obedience to start over, you will face opposition from the enemy who will try to hinder what you are doing, discourage you from you what you are doing and fight against what you are doing. Nehemiah faces issues and opposition from three non-Jewish people: Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. However, Nehemiah was not backing down.
When we are faced with opposition and the enemy is trying to do everything in his power to thwart God’s plan, we must be like Nehemiah and build with God-fidence and declare the Lord’s name even amid opposition.
I was at my personal ground zero this week and it started Monday afternoon and Tuesday and Wednesday I had to work my way from under the rubble — the weight of what got me there in the first place. I had to rebuild spiritually and emotionally. Then by Thursday, I was better and by Friday, praise God, I was back to normal.
Sometimes we are those stones from the crumbled walls of Jerusalem, needing restructuring after going through mental, emotional and physical battles but we must rebuild.
Trouble doesn’t just come to us, it comes to our neighbors and we must become the Nehemiah of their lives and help them rebuild from their ground zero.
You are someone’s Nehemiah. I am your Nehemiah. You are my Nehemiah. Will you intercede? Will you see the need and take the initiative to help get the job done? Will you maintain the God-fidence needed to stand against the enemy?
I saw an article today about children who lost their fathers on 9/11. I wondered if they have their ground zero moments because of their loss. I wondered if they and their mothers have a Nehemiah to help them rebuild.
You will always encounter people who need a Nehemiah. Be willing to work and have a heart to serve just like the Jews who helped Nehemiah in Jerusalem.