READ Nehemiah 1:5–2:1
Elizabeth Elliott said, “God’s story never ends with ashes.” I love that quote and the truth it holds, that God perfects what he starts.
But while God’s story never ends in ashes, every story has an ashes season, a season where life is tough and getting out of bed to face the day is a struggle.
Nehemiah knew what it was like to live in a season of ashes. His people were living in an era of ashes! The pain of exile should not be underestimated. It involved a people group collectively grieving over lost lives, lost communities, lost homes. In an instant whole worlds were turned upside down. Then, as the dust settled on the pain of yesterday’s defeat, their eyes opened to a crushing new reality, a life of slavery, working for the very people who had stolen everything from them! An opportunity to become bitter and twisted? I’d say so.
But look at Nehemiah behaving spectacularly RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ASHES. Watch his interaction with the king. There is no slacking because the king doesn’t deserve his service, no meanness of spirit because the kingdom has caused him pain, no curt tone because he wants everyone to know he has been hurt. No. Nehemiah behaves in the ashes exactly how he would behave on the mountaintop.
And hard as that sounds, isn’t that what God requires of us? Doesn’t he ask for a walk of faithfulness and integrity, based on our love for him not on our circumstances?
If you are currently in the ashes it is important you know this truth; our attitude in the ashes affects our rise from the ashes. If Nehemiah’s attitude in this season had been poor it would have paralyzed his future. He wouldn’t have risen to this place of success in the kingdom and he wouldn’t have had the favour of the king, the favour that would facilitate the rise of the Jews. He didn’t know his attitude mattered, but it did. So how is your attitude today? Your attitude in the ashes, will affect your rise from the ashes.
Lord keep my spirit sweet in times of adversity so I may honour you and step into the rise you have awaiting me. Amen.