This devotional was originally published on January 16, 2017.
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.
— Nehemiah 1:4–6
So, Nehemiah receives word that the city walls have been broken down, and that his people are no long safe. He is scared, he might even be a little confused, but he knows that something needs to be done. And where is the first place he turns? He turns to God.
Where do you turn when all hope seems lost, and you feel like something needs to be done? When you feel like life is a mess, where do you turn?
Most of us try our best to do it on our own. What would it take for us to turn to God first? We live in a culture where everything around us tells us that we can do it on our own, but here’s the thing: we were never made to do it on our own! God didn’t design us to go through the rough times on our own. He designed us to need him.
God created us to turn to him with our problems, our issues, our hurts and our needs. We need to break whatever cultural norm that tells us to fix our problems on our own. Think about it. Who normally gets us into our messes? We do! So, don’t you think you need to focus more on the only one who can truly help you, and not the one who put you in the mess in the first place? Whenever you feel the need to work on yourself alone, remind yourself of God’s promises to you:
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
— Psalm 18:1–2
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
— Hebrews 13:5
“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for wthe Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
— Isaiah 12:2
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you…”
— 2 Corinthians 12:9
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
— Proverbs 3:6
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
— Psalm 107:13
If you read through all of these, they’re not about doing it on your own, they’re truly about leaning on God. What makes all of this even more awesome is that, if you look at why you were created, it’s simple to lean on him and make him known. God isn’t going anywhere, and you can’t do enough bad things to push him away, so why not turn to him first?
God already knows what tomorrow brings, and he knows the struggles you will have. What’s great about all of that is he is there to bring comfort and peace, not because he will fix the mess, but because you know who is in control of your mess.