It’s been said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome. Whoever first said this must’ve studied the Hebrew people extensively.

In Nehemiah, we’ve followed the physical rebuilding of Jerusalem but come to understand the much-needed spiritual rebuilding of its inhabitants as well in the book’s later chapters. We’re shown that, while Nehemiah’s people face conviction for turning against God and seek to never again commit the wrongs that put them in exile in the first place, they fail once again and find themselves in a dire situation.

But we continually take part in that same cycle of forsaking God. We find things in our lives that we desire more than him and then put those above him — whether we admit it or not.

Thankfully, rich in mercy, God forgives us of those trespasses if we repent and draw near to him. What’s most beautiful, and what should give us peace, is that he will continually do this because his son, Jesus Christ, has already paid the ultimate sacrifice that we should be facing in death.

Today, it’s important that we look for the places in our lives where we continually turn from God and let those go. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve done that before and it doesn’t matter how guilty, desolate or discouraged that makes us feel, there is nothing like God’s kindness — a power that will always lead us to repentance.

They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
— Nehemiah 9:17

The beauty of the cross is that when we do what Nehemiah’s people did — no matter how often — God is supremely merciful towards us and looks for an opportunity to bring us into his loving hold.

Let that spurn us on towards lives that desire God more than anything and drive us to distance ourselves from the worldly and sinful chasms we place in between ourselves and him.