Ever wonder why it is so hard to be patient? Maybe you are patient, and this is just my problem! While I think I was probably born impatient, much has happened in our world during our lifetimes to foster an instant gratification mindset. Think about it. The home computer was created in 1977. This was followed by the Internet in 1983. Then came Amazon in 1994, social media in 1997, and the I-phone in 2007. It seems like we don’t have to wait for much of anything these days. Everything we want is at our fingertips, and the virtue of patient waiting has fallen into the abyss.
I’m sure as educators you understand what I am talking about. Everyone seems to want something from us right away, but if truth were told, we can also be a bit impatient. No one likes to wait. We have all become accustomed to the quick fix.
As educators we are quick fix masters. Every single day is full of problems that require quick solutions. It is how we roll. It is often how we survive! However, quick fixes elude us in the days that we are presently living. The challenges we are facing as a result of the coronavirus are too overwhelming to fix quickly with our willpower or ingenuity.
While our current situation is like nothing we have faced before, the Bible is riddled with examples of men and women who faced insurmountable odds and prevailed. One such man was Nehemiah. Nehemiah was burdened by a problem he did not create. He wasn’t sure what he could do or if God could use him, but he had a desire to be part of the solution.
I can’t help but draw some parallels to what many Christian educators are facing and will be facing in the future. This is a situation none of us saw coming. We are grieving the loss of our classrooms, our students, and our community. Everything seems to be in a constant state of change. While the expectation is that things will return to normal, rebuilding will have to occur. No one really knows what that will look like, but I am quite certain, like Nehemiah, we want to be part of the solution. If that’s the case, then we might benefit from taking a look at how Nehemiah handled his rebuilding project.
If you haven’t read the story lately, I would encourage you to cozy up on the coach, open your Bible, and read Nehemiah 1-8. I found the story mesmerizing as Nehemiah lead a community to rebuild the protective walls of Jerusalem that had been in ruins for years. Like educators, Nehemiah was a doer. He did have to be patient, but given the opportunity, he took action. I am choosing to focus on three key actions of Nehemiah that stood out for me, but trust me there are more. I’m excited for you to discover them yourself!
Upon hearing the news of his beloved Jerusalem, Nehemiah was heartbroken. The Bible says he wept and mourned. Knowing those he loved were broken brought him tremendous sorrow. So what did he do about the situation? Before he took any action on his own, he prayed. Nehemiah did not pray a demanding prayer; instead, he honored God, reminded God of His promises, and repented for himself and his people. We are told Nehemiah prayed day and night for 4½ months! He didn’t fly into action, but he patiently prayed and waited for God to open a door of opportunity.
I have to wonder how many times we have given up praying because God didn’t give us a quick fix. In Nehemiah’s case and in ours, God is orchestrating everything behind the scenes to ensure His will is accomplished. If you are frustrated about your current situation—before you act—pray. Be patient. God always has a plan.
Nehemiah also planned. Nehemiah didn’t believe in coasting during his patient waiting. It was obvious he had trusted God to answer his prayer. He got to work on his plans so when God opened the door, he was prepared to walk through. He thought everything through. When King Artaxerxes gave him permission to leave, he asked for letters to ensure safe passage and goods to finance the rebuilding. Not only did the king grant his request, but he also provided him with an infantry! Isn’t this just like God? He so often gives us more than we ask for, and Nehemiah knew it. He knew his plan would only come to fruition through the mighty hand of God.
“And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah 2:8
What have you been praying for regarding your current situation? What is your plan when God opens your door? It is easy to resist planning. After all, we don’t know what God is going to do. I know I have been guilty of this myself. However, if God lays something on your heart or you have claimed a promise in His word, plan accordingly! We need to be ready! We don’t have to worry about getting it wrong. God is bigger than our plans.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Not only did Nehemiah pray and plan, he persevered. Rebuilding the wall was not well-received by outsiders. Nehemiah endured criticism, taunts, and threats. The people became understandably fearful. What Nehemiah did next is such a great example for all of us.
· He prayed.
· He recognized the true enemy and ignored the mocking.
· He proclaimed the power of God.
· He armed for battle.
Nehemiah was anything but passive. As he proclaimed, “Our God will fight for us,” (Nehemiah 4:20), he also stationed guards along the wall for protection. God worked through His people as they worked. Their actions reflected their faith despite the threats and fear that tried to derail them. There was no quick fix, no easy response. Nehemiah blocked out the noise and stayed focused on God’s call on his life. It took commitment to persevere. The result? The wall was built in 52 days! Nothing short of a miracle.
As we continue to rebuild our educational environments, it will take perseverance. We will have to work hard and arm ourselves against the enemy who wants to discourage and discredit us. Never forget the words of Nehemiah. “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build.”
There are no quick fixes, but do not worry. God has something much better in store for you!