“What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are? Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.’” Nehemiah 4:2,10
I saw her standing there, her image lit up the screen of my phone sometime around 3:30 in the morning. I couldn’t sleep and after praying, tossing and turning, playing solitaire, and praying some more only to still lie awake in my bed, I began scrolling through Facebook to occupy my mind. That’s when I saw my friend standing in the rain in front of a blazing fire and my heart cried out with new prayers in the dark of night.
It burned. Her whole house burned, and everything in it was ruined.
Thankfully they were home when the lightening struck and so they got out with their kids and dogs and cars. But still…everything else burned. It all has to be rebuilt. Brick by brick, and one item at a time, everything they had before the fire has now been lost.
And I can’t imagine what it feels like to wake up in your neighbor’s house and hold your cup of coffee at the front door while you look out across the street to see home…the place you find your rest, the place that holds the familiar memories that make up a lifetime, the place that makes daily function simpler, all turned to ash and rubble.
“She won’t even have a fresh pair of underwear for today” I thought to myself. And I, living in a different city, I couldn’t even bring a meal. I can’t be there to help sort through the remains. I wasn’t sure what to do, how to help, but I wanted to do something.
Because here’s the thing, the ones in the midst of the rebuild are so tired. Their strength gives out almost as soon as it comes and we all know that burned walls don’t get rebuilt in a day.
In Nehemiah we find a weary bunch of God’s people trying to rebuild a burned Jerusalem wall, and they are TIRED. To make matters worse, naysayers who never much help anything surround them, and the thing that needs to be rebuilt is so great it feels daunting. How and where to even begin, when the beginning is so much a sorting through the ending?
I love in Nehemiah 4:14-18 when it goes on to say,
“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’
When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.”
The Lord will fight for us and with us, but He still asks us to show up to do the work. And some of us do the labor and some of us stand in battle on behalf of those doing the work.
Last fall before I was speaking at a women’s conference, the team of organizers asked to pray for me before it all began. They circled around and asked me to stand in the center, and then they did something that I’d never experienced before, they all turned their backs to me, and faced outward.
“You can’t battle on behalf of someone if you’re not on the lookout for the enemy approaching,” one woman said to me. “So we turn our backs to you so that as we pray, we stand in battle on behalf of you. You don’t need to look out for what may be coming, because we will.”
And I wept there in the middle of that circle because my sisters were willing to battle for me so that I could stand and sound the trumpet as we oversaw what was being built that weekend.
So as I saw my friend lose everything in that fire, and realized that proximity isn’t a requirement for standing in the burden of loss with someone you love, I got on my knees and I did battle facing outward on behalf of her. And then I got online and I ordered her underwear and a couple pairs of jeans because anyone sorting through rubble needs at least some pants.
A couple of days later I saw a picture posted of a Steelers jersey that another friend had sent her to replace the one she had lost in the flames. And my heart smiled so big that my face followed suit, not because we need a football jersey to rebuild a life, but because replacing the little things, seeing the people we were (and still are) before we are impacted by tragedy, is what helps rebuild stronger walls. We all want to be seen and known, and bearing one another’s burdens is so much more meaningful when we don’t forget to see the person through the burden.
We inventory what was lost to replace and rebuild things stronger than they were before.
And while we can’t all take inventory, and we can’t all sort through rubble and rebuild walls, we can all come alongside as the body of Christ to take up a shovel or take up a sword, or sometimes even take up both to stand in the places where rebuilding happens. We encircle one another and we do battle in the Throne Room on our knees on behalf of those sorting through the rubble.
Galatians 6:2 reminds us that we fulfill the law of Christ when we bear one another’s burdens. By ourselves we can’t rebuild places of great loss, but shouldering the weight alongside our brothers and sisters, we can rebuild nations in the name of the Lord.
Now It’s Your Turn
Today think about a time when someone else has borne a burden alongside of you. Consider also how you can enter in with someone else in a place of need and help them strengthen the broken places.
Heavenly Father, you are the original Master Builder, and you are the author and perfector of our faith and our lives. We thank you that you are writing stories with each of us individually and as we come alongside to labor together. “ And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10
Thank you Jesus for loving us, for sacrificing for us, so that a new story can be written before our eyes when we are fixed on your goodness and stand alongside one another to rebuild the scorched places of our lives.
In Jesus’ Name,
More from the Girlfriends
Logan Wolfram would give you full access to her pantry if you lived next door. She is a plate-juggling mom and interior decorator turned author, speaker, Bible teacher, and host of the Allume Conference. She is a passionate leader who desires to see women live fully in Christ. Her first book, Curious Faith; Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility with David C Cook publishing encourages women to rescue the now and uncover possibility in their lives. Logan and her husband, Jeremy, divide their time between wrangling two inquisitive boys and a 175-pound dog named Titan. They reside in Greenville, South Carolina.