Part six in a series on divorce and remarriage.
A few years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of singles in Southern California. Ironically, the topic was, Broken—yet Unbreakable: rebuilding after brokenness. In prayerful preparation for this message, I isolated seven ways to rebuild based on the story of Nehemiah found in the Old Testament.
The story picks up with Nehemiah being in anguish after receiving a report of the spiritual and physical destruction that existed in Jerusalem. Upon hearing of Nehemiah’s distress, the foreign king appoints him governor and gives him the authority to return to his homeland and rebuild the walls.
1. Fast and pray: Nehemiah 1:4 states, “So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah discovered that the Jews who survived the captivity were living in great distress and that the wall of Jerusalem that represented their strength had been destroyed. Nehemiah understood that the first step was prayer and fasting. Fasting forces us to neglect the flesh and feed the spirit. It’s a time to focus on God. Fasting and prayer releases spiritual strength not otherwise available.
2. Confess: In verses 6 and 7 Nehemiah prays, “We have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments…” Although our brokenness may have resulted from the actions of another, we are never above reproach. Confession, prayer and fasting, are often the beginning steps that open the door for God’s redeeming power.
3. Return to God: One of the leading causes of divorce in America is unfaithfulness. But there is a solution. God reminds us that if we return to Him, and keep His commandments, He will bring us to a place of restoration. Whether we were the cause of the brokenness or were primarily on the receiving end, we must return to God and His commandments.
4. Position yourself to rebuild: Nehemiah said to the king “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it” (2:5).
Nehemiah didn’t leave for Judah without first positioning himself by asking the king to bestow favor. He knew that he would need resources, men, and the king’s blessing to accomplish the task of rebuilding of the wall. To position ourselves means to align or arrange our life in such a way that we are able to receive God’s blessings. During this step, as I’ve said many times before, remove everything that does not correspond with God’s Word. For example, if you’re praying for restoration in your marriage, it’s wise not to be involved in another relationship. If you’re seeking a godly spouse, don’t live promiscuously. In healing brokenness, resurrecting past memories and regret is not wise. Seeking God’s will must be your primary focus.
5. Use new things to build: In Nehemiah 2:8, we read that Nehemiah requested new lumber for the rebuilding of the wall, the gates, and his home. He needed new material to rebuild an old wall. In the same way, God will bring new things into your life.
How do you know when your past is affecting your future? If your plans, hopes and dreams are drawing from the past, your past is affecting your future.
For instance, for several months I was not able to move forward and rebuild my life. My divorce, although years earlier, was still haunting me. Trust and marital failure were issues I had to resolve; my past was clearly affecting my future. This is not to say that one cannot hope, pray, and wait for their marriage to be restored, but if the focus is on the past, it’s difficult to be open for the future.
More points next week…