1 These are the words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah.
I, Nehemiah, was in the capital city of Susa. It was in the month of Kislev. This was in the twentieth year. 2 One of my brothers named Hanani came from Judah. Some other men were with him. I asked them about the Jews who lived through the captivity. And I also asked about Jerusalem.
3 They answered, “Nehemiah, those who are left from the captivity are back in the area of Judah. But they are in much trouble and are full of shame. The wall around Jerusalem is broken down. And its gates have been burned.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and cried for several days. I was sad and did not eat food. I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 I said, “Lord, God of heaven, you are the great God who is to be respected. You keep your agreement of love with those who love you and obey your commands. 6 Listen carefully. Look at me. Hear the prayer your servant is praying to you day and night. I am praying for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites have done against you. My father’s family and I have sinned against you. 7 We have been wicked toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, rules and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember what you taught your servant Moses. You said, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations. 9 But if you come back to me and obey my commands, I will gather your people. I will gather them from the far ends of the earth. And I will bring them from captivity to where I have chosen to be worshiped.’
10 “They are your servants and your people. You have saved them with your great strength and power.
You trailed behind me making me believe you left long ago; however, clanging bones revealed your position. You were closer than I ever imagined! Pausing long enough to catch your eye [pause] – brings back sorrowful emotions. Visions flood my mind where captivity, chains, and venom abound. When I saw these things, I could only cry. Evil freely enters through broken walls without any awareness or plan to fortify. Replaying the events mimicked learning to ride a bicycle yet falling repeatedly on gravel without any one there to help mend the wounds.
The hair on the back of my neck stands at attention in the first line of defense. The legion has been identified and their war cry is deafening. The sickening sound of anger, resentment, fear, and seclusion swirl around me like fiery hornets. My posture changes to prayer as my physical calls for help go unnoticed by man; I’ve been looking but no one comes. The hills are empty and my voice carries with purpose yet the echo returns empty. As I hit my knees, my Spirit always reminds me:
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Falling prostrate in prayer allows my God to fight my battles! I am transformed into a field of peace, where His hand of protection covers me and allows me to stand on His solid Rock [His Son] where I am able to look at the storm, head on, only through the eyes of my Savior who took the battle ahead of me. Through His ultimate protection, I begin to feel the Potter rebuild the damaged walls and fortify His city within me. I continue to rely on 2 Corinthians 12:10, “So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.”