Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart
Nov 2, 2019 · Courtney Jacob
“Now what?” It’s a question we ask when the way forward is unclear. Maybe you’re experiencing:
- A major life transition, like retirement or the loss of a spouse, that’s bringing a chapter of reliable, comforting routine to a close.
- Or a life-altering event like a medical diagnosis, a job loss, or natural disaster that has forced an unwanted change in plans.
- Or maybe past choices or mistakes have led you to hit rock bottom and life can never be the same as it was before.
When such catastrophic change occurs, uncertainty and fear can threaten our faith and make it difficult to know how to rebuild. In our Groundwork series, “Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart,” we’ll dig into the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah as they lead a remnant of Israelites to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple after generations in exile. Through our study, we’ll discern biblical lessons to support and encourage us as we endure our own seasons of rebuilding.
When Progress Stalls
It’s quite common during times of rebuilding to feel like we’re doing everything right but somehow everything still goes wrong. As faithful believers, we trust God, yet the longer the season lasts, the more frustrated we might feel and the more difficult it might be to see God’s hand in it all. These are the times it’s helpful to look back on the history of our faith.
We can certainly look back over our own personal story and remember what God has already done in our lives. But for deeper reassurance, we can recount the stories of the Bible. These stories give us the gift of hindsight. Since we can see the whole picture of God’s story in the Bible, we can see that God was present even when the Israelites couldn’t see him. We can identify how God was working behind the scenes, and be reminded of his presence, his love, and his faithfulness. By witnessing God’s commitment to f those who went before us—we can be assured that he is with us even when our way forward may not be clear.
Recalling the Story of Ezra and Nehemiah
In the last chapter of 2 Chronicles, Babylon conquers Judah, destroys the city of Jerusalem and its temple with fire, and hauls the survivors off into exile in Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:17-21). Then 2 Chronicles jumps ahead in time, approximately seventy years after Persia has in turn conquered and settled in Babylon. It closes with Cyrus, the new King of Persia, proclaiming that God has charged him to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and him sending any Israelites who desire to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple may go (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). This is a prelude to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
King Cyrus allows the remnant of Israelites to return to do the work of rebuilding, thus obeying God’s charge to him. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah trace the remnant’s long and arduous process of return and rebuilding. It took them a long time to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem, and when they arrived, the extent of destruction to the walls and city left them vulnerable and overwhelmed with work. And if all that wasn’t enough, opposition and challenges impeded their progress at every turn.
The stories recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah detail not only the efforts of God’s people to rebuild, but also reflect how God orchestrates events and works through humans like King Cyrus, Ezra, Nehemiah—and dare I say, you and me—to achieve his purposes.
Learning from Ezra and Nehemiah
Like the original audience, we too can find encouragement in the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah as they spur us on to identify the hand of God at work in our own lives and in our stories of rebuilding. I invite you to find assurance for your faith and the courage to persevere in your life’s challenges by studying Ezra and Nehemiah through our Groundwork series, “Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart”...
- Know that God is Working - Ezra 1-2, Ezra 7:1-8, and Nehemiah 1:1-4
- Making Sense of Setbacks - Ezra 3-4 and Ezra 7:8-28
- Building Blocks for Biblical Success - Nehemiah 2:11-18, Nehemiah 4:1-15, and Nehemiah 5:1-12
- Lean Into God's Grace- Nehemiah 8-9 and Nehemiah 13:22,31
...and together we’ll discover biblical wisdom and guidance for taking the next step in putting the pieces of life back together with confidence in God’s grace and great love for us.