Encouragement for Today

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29 (NIV)

The day after my husband got a job offer in a city 1,000 miles away, I gave birth to our second child.

Within two weeks, we learned our newborn baby daughter would need immediate surgery, leading to two overnight hospital stays, and we had no insurance. The new job couldn’t wait, so my husband drove off with our belongings, leaving me to stay with friends and finish up with post-op doctor visits and financial arrangements.

When I remember this two-month period in my life, I still get teary.

I have never experienced such a mixture of despair, anguish and worry sloshed together in one big mess. When I have hit other stretches of rough pavement in my life, I’ve often thought, If I could make it through that season of life, I can make it through anything. 

But I don’t want to remember those two months with only sorrow and regret. I want a smile to accompany the tears. God did amazing things for us: He surrounded us with kind and generous friends who fed us, gave us housing, and spoke encouraging words that offered hope. Two days before the children and I left town, our doctor’s financial director told me a county grant would pay our substantial medical bills in full. And today, my daughter has grown into an accomplished young woman.

While God invites us to make space for lament in suffering, I’ve realized we also have every reason to dance with delight for the ways we’ve witnessed God’s care for us.

In Scripture, Nehemiah gives us an example of how to remember hard seasons of life with celebration after our sadness. Nehemiah was the provincial governor during the time when returning Jewish exiles rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem … and the rebuild was not easy. Enemies and naysayers dogged every hour, leading volunteers to work with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other.

Yet God’s partnership with His people was so apparent that Israel’s enemies lost their nerve (Nehemiah 6:16). And when the building project was done, Nehemiah led a parade of people to march on top of the walls in praise to God, showing the strength of the very walls that their enemies had predicted would topple (Nehemiah 4:3). I love the imagery of Nehemiah’s dedication service. No private, closed-door ceremony for them; it was a loud, musical, top-of-the-wall celebration that could be heard far away (Nehemiah 12:43).

Our key verse for today says, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29). With God, we can rebuild after devastation and then dance, even when others say it can’t be done, praising God because He helped us do it. Our memory portraits of the sadness and struggle are not erased, but they now bear the added marks of God’s mighty power that makes healing possible.

I imagine you’ve had your seasons of struggle too. How did God walk with you? How did your faith stay strong, and how did others grow in their faith as they watched you? Even if it has been years, you can commemorate that time when you had to pick up the pieces of brokenness and rebuild your life. Like Nehemiah, you can dance in praise for what you accomplished with God’s help, even though it was so very hard.

Here’s my idea: Like Nehemiah, let’s plan a victory celebration. We can set aside a time and place to praise God for what He has done to carry us through and empower us to rebuild.

You can even invite those who shared the work and worry with you and, together, tell what you saw God do. Be creative! To represent the person you are and how God has delivered you, you can celebrate with music, food, decorations, storytelling, crafts, or whatever helps you best express your joy.

In trouble and heartbreak, there is a time for grief. But there is also “a time to heal … a time to build … a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:3-4, NIV). Our faith can become even stronger than before with the help of our faithful God.

Lord, I honor You for being with me through the tough moments and giving me the strength I needed to make it through. I dance with joy as I look at all Your awesome works. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.