Today as I am setting in my study, my mind keeps going to the example of a man who lived in Persia about 2500 years ago. A very different time and place, and yet there is much we can learn from Nehemiah as we deal with our current national and global crisis. Nehemiah was not concerned about the attack of a virus, but he was aware and concerned about the very real threat of enemy forces surrounding Jerusalem, which was without defenses (their walls had been destroyed and never rebuilt).
To properly develop that whole story would take longer than this short article. You can read the account in the Bible in the book of Nehemiah. What I want to direct your focus towards is that Nehemiah was a man of faith and a great strategist. He was a man of prayer and a man of planning and action. We need to learn from his example.
Christians in our country today largely move towards one of two extremes. Some say we just need to cry out to the Lord and He will save us from this disease. They feel that it is our faith that will bring victory in this conflict. Some even feel that they are somehow exempt from infection because of their faith. There is a second group that act as if it is just something we can solve on our own. They feel we must rely on human ingenuity and effort. If we work hard enough and spend enough of our resources we can surely find a cure and prevent great harm. Both of those views are deficient!
Nehemiah was a governmental official in Persia. He was humanly in a position of influence and power, yet when he recognized the serious plight of his people in Jerusalem the very first thing he did was pray. He understood that victory over the situation would only come if God chose to act. His prayer was one of confession of national failure and requested that the Lord show the mercy He had promised Israel. It was a humble prayer knowing that God was the only solution.
However, Nehemiah did much more than pray. He researched what it would take in terms of materials, funds, and man-hours. When the door opened for him to make a request of the king of Persia he knew what to ask. When he arrived at Jerusalem he did not make any proclamation as to what they should do until he had opportunity to quietly examine the need and develop a plan. It was a plan that would need to be altered as the project went forward and opposition increased. We read In 4:9, “So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night.” The opposition grew stronger so by the next chapter they are carrying a load in one hand and a weapon in the other.
As we face a very different crisis we must understand that balanced strategy, we must first humble ourselves and pray. The Lord will assist us as we recognize and declare our dependence on Him. That does not mean that we then sit back and wait for Him to work. He has given us brains and abilities and expects us to use those gifts. We must take seriously our role in planning and readjusting those plans even as we continue to pray. May the Lord bless our efforts as we look to Him to give us aide!