Monday, November 1, 2010

Rebuilding After Loss, Part One

Nehemiah, one of the Hebrews who had been living in exile in Babylon finally got news from home.  But it wasn't good:

"Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire".

Nehemiah was heartbroken: "When I heard these things, I wept..."(Neh.1:3,4).

Loss.  Reversal.  Bereavement.  These experiences have the power to stun us - to "knock the wind" out of us - and to even shut us completely down with sorrow.  Many of the people living in our own times are experiencing reversal and loss due to our country's economy as well as other factors. For many, these are trying times, indeed.

Do you know someone who is seeking to rebuild after grief or loss?  Perhaps you have friends, family members and neighbors who have lost jobs.  So many Americans have lost homes and other prized possessions as the financial pressures have taken their toll. And there are other kinds of losses, too. These include the loss of one's dignity, ability to trust, and sense of personal identity or safety. Perhaps you are going through such a time.

Life sometimes includes "mega-losses" such as when people lose important friends, a spouse, or a child.  Enduring such reversals puts us on the receiving end of some of life's heaviest possible blows. And so, all of this begs the question: can people successfully recover from such devastating circumstances? I believe the answer is "yes".  But restoration is not a quick or easy process.

Rebuilding Again - Beginning in Prayer

After expressing his initial sorrow and grief, Nehemiah began to engage the Lord in prayer. Prayer is certainly "Job One" in the rebuilding process for we cannot come back from powerful losses well without the wisdom, comfort, grace and empowering presence of God.

Nehemiah's prayer life remained rich throughout the daunting project of restoration he led the people to begin.  Along the way he faced stiff resistance from enemies, the need to keep a large team of workers motivated and other logistical and personal challenges.

Wise Nehemiah knew that this re-building would require more than what human hands and resources could provide.  Again and again, he called on God for help.  As he did, he shared each challenge and victory with the Lord as if He was right beside him in the process (He was!).

Just as prayer played a major role in Nehemiah's rebuilding effort, so must it play a key role in your own loss recovery story.  Many testify that prayers of many kinds - from gutsy, intensive prayers of praise and petition to deeply reflective prayers of Christ-centered meditation - have been their lifeline while in restoration and rebuilding mode.

Then I (Nehemiah) said: "O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands, let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before You day and night for your servants, the people of Israel ..." (Neh. 1:5, 6a)

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