This month I have been looking at the heroes of the faith covered in Hebrews chapter 12 through the book Running with Giants by John Maxwell.
One particular character stopped me in my tracks as I was reading this beautifully crafted book: Nehemiah.
'Making it' in Persia
Nehemiah worked for King Artaxerxes of Persia, and his role was the king's cupbearer. While it doesn't sound that dangerous to us now, it was an important role in the king's household.
This person would be responsible for testing the food and drink for poison before it was served to the king. Nehemiah was, I guess, equivalent to a celebrity bodyguard in our society.
This was a coveted position and it wasn't often given to a foreigner (this was during the Babylonian Exile period). However, Nehemiah built his rapport and relationship with King Artaxerxes.
Although Nehemiah wasn't in Israel he stayed up to date with the news and felt enormous anguish when he heard his hometown Jerusalem was in strife. The gates were burnt to the ground and the people were unprotected.
Nehemiah had 'made it', he was successful in Persia. However, he wanted to help and rebuild the temples in Israel. Nehemiah knew that to be able to do this, he would need help and couldn't go it alone.
Doing life together
This topic of 'doing life' together is one I have been personally challenged about in recent weeks. In a society where each of us 'runs our own race' we are called to do it in partnership, not just couples, but as the body of Christ.
While it is not always easy to ask for help we ought to understand that we cannot let insecurity, ego or fear convince us to try to go it alone. The consequences can be destructive and often painful. It's no wonder solitary confinement is considered the worst form of imprisonment!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 12 it says,
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
In churches, communities, and even families, we have so many relationships to help us work together for God's glory. From life-giving friendships to challenging mentors, or mother/father figures to provide counsel, support and nurture—we are called to ask for help when we need it.
Provision in partnership
Nehemiah, although worried, chose to ask the king for help because he understood that the problem was too big for him to overcome himself. The king agreed to send him to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and when he got there he realised he needed to ask for help again.
In Nehemiah chapter 2, verse 17 it says:
Then I said to them, 'You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and we will no longer be in disgrace'.
It was with wisdom and leadership that Nehemiah rallied the people to rebuild. He did face opposition in the midst, but he came to realise that asking for help was needed when the problem was bigger than he was. It was personal and God's hand was upon the vision.
Too often we are tempted to either carry the entire load ourselves (the old 'woe is me') or give everything to God and do nothing—both methods are unhelpful.
Through the life of Nehemiah we see that great things can be done through people who love God and choose to work together to see his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
As John Maxwell puts it, we can run this race well, but we cannot run it alone.
Meenal Chandra is a Sydney based writer who knows life is better with people.
Meenal Chandra's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html