“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Emphasis added)
The rich spiritual heritage of our nation served as a springboard to launch us into greatness. God blessed America as we protected our sovereign rights and became a model for other civilizations to follow.
It seems like we drifted from the vision of our forefathers as they used biblical principles to form the initial foundational documents that would allow the United States to prosper. In order for us to once again receive God’s favor we must return to those fundamental Christian values that defined our culture.
How do we humble ourselves? Humility is currently lacking among many of our leaders and icons. It is the brash, the arrogant, and the disrespectful who are attracting our young people away from godly values and virtuous thinking. You only have to look as far as your Bible to define the character traits lacking by some stand-out individuals. Too many people are now being defined by words like narcissist or entitled.
Can our nation survive the onslaught of selfishness and pride? The life of Nehemiah provides a valuable lesson on how prayer and commitment can heal a nation. When Nehemiah was serving as a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes he had an opportunity to see God’s grace and favor because people once again trusted in God.
After finding out that his home city of Jerusalem was in shambles, Nehemiah became very sad and frustrated. Jerusalem fell in part because of its moral corruption and arrogance. Nehemiah knew that his responsibilities to the king would not allow him the time or the resources to help lead Israel out of its dilemma. Instead of complaining or blaming others, he got on his knees and cried out to God. He prayed, fasted, and pleaded with God to intercede and bless his nation.
One day, the king noticed that Nehemiah was pre-occupied and despondent. Nehemiah shared the plight of his homeland and the anguish within his heart. God moved in Artaxerxes’ spirit and caused him to react favorably to his servant. Nehemiah found favor with the king who released him to go and assist the Israelites with re-building Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-6).
Like ancient Israel, America has its share of damaged gates and walls in need of repair. The physical repairs needed are insignificant compared to the emotional scars and destroyed lives that divorce, drug abuse, pornography, immorality, and pride have left in their wake. We are in need of a great healing that can only happen if His people humble themselves, repent of their sins, and cry out to God.
Unfortunately, there is little difference between the negative behaviors found in our culture and some churches. Too many churches are often worried about helping folks to feel comfortable rather than teaching them about the importance of repentance and prayer. Some professing Christians are too tolerant of the “cultural norm” instead of seeking positive ways to impact their families and neighborhoods for Christ’s sake.
Our Heavenly Father delights in helping His children rediscover its vision for goodness. Our children and grandchildren deserve to have a rich and promising Christian heritage. It is up to us to pray and help develop great godly character among those we love. When our children learn moral relativism from educators, the media, and society in general, we must take a stand on the Word of God and proclaim His absolute truth.
Committed Christians need to be the Nation’s lighthouse. The Church should be a beacon of hope, love, peace, forgiveness, and understanding. The emotional storms and turbulent times will continue, but let our light so shine that we can be a resource for our communities. Let’s be the “Nehemiah” or our day. Take a stand and get involved.
As you read through the book of Nehemiah what thoughts do you have? What happens when people lose their hope and vision for the future (chapter 4)? What is the positive ending we find in chapter 5?