Now What? Biblical Encouragement for a Season of Rebuilding
Apr 9, 2021 · Courtney Jacob
It’s now been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives. For months, many of us have longed for “normal.” With the presence of vaccines and the hope of herd immunity on the horizon, many of us are daring to look toward the future and begin to ask, “Now what?”
The reality is, relationships have been strained during the pandemic, jobs lost, new jobs begun, school and work done virtually, and many celebrations and traditions missed or changed. So much has changed in the past 12+ months that emotions like excitement, hope, apprehension, and loss all coexist within us. You might be excited about gathering with family again, but sad about the family members no longer present; hopeful about singing in church, but apprehensive about whether or not the vaccines will really work. I’m sure you can add a slew of other mixed emotions you’ve experienced in this new season.
No matter what has changed or what has stayed the same, we, as individuals, faith communities, and societies are about to cross into a season of post-COVID rebuilding. Whether we’re rebuilding relationships, communities, routines, or lives, rooting our efforts in scripture will give us a solid foundation to rely on when we face uncertainty or difficulties along the way. In a time like this, the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah provide helpful insight and encouragement. In our Groundwork series, “Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart,” we study Ezra and Nehemiah’s stories and discern biblical lessons to support and encourage us as we endure our own seasons of rebuilding.
Recalling the Story of Ezra and Nehemiah
The last chapter of 2 Chronicles, begins with Babylon conquering Judah, destroying the city of Jerusalem and its temple with fire, and then hauling the survivors off into exile in Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:17-21). It then 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 with rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem (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. 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 they 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.
The Continued Relevance of Scripture
We originally released the series “Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart” in 2019, months before we knew much of anything about COVID-19 or the drastic way the pandemic would alter our lives in 2020, and now, 2021. And yet I’m struck by the resonance and benefit these episodes continue to offer. That’s the beauty of Ezra and Nehemiah. Their stories reflect the reality that God’s people are always going to encounter challenges along the way, that we’re going to need to make choices, and adjust plans. We may not know the outcome of our own situations yet, nor how long they will last, but “Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart” will help us find reassurance and courage for our own faith through the stories of Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Israelite remnant.
Episode #1: In Know that God is Working, we’re reminded of God’s faithfulness and presence, whether we see him at work or not.
Episode #2 and #3: Making Sense of Setbacks and Building Blocks for Biblical Success provide encouragement and support as we face discouragement, experience setbacks, or encounter opposition along the way.
Episode #4: InLean into God’s Gracewe are reminded that we don’t need to rely on our own ability. God, in his great love for us, and through his grace has already provided what we need to see this transition through and rebuild our lives.
Hope and a Way Forward
I was recently reminded that while we have all experienced the same pandemic, we do not all have the same experience of it. I hope that whatever your circumstances, you will find hope and strength for your faith as you look back and study the history of our faith.
Listen to “Now What? Rebuilding When Life Falls Apart” and study Ezra and Nehemiah with Groundwork 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. I pray that through this study you will be assured of God’s presence with you even if the way forward is not clear.