Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!
Over my almost two years in Nicaragua I have had many experiences, both good and bad, and have learned a lot through each of them. Of all of the situations I have encountered, I would say I have learned the most from dealing with difficult things. A few years ago, I heard that Presidents of the United States tend to gain gray hair over the course of their presidencies. While I have certainly never experienced the level pressure and stress they feel, my wife can attest to the fact that I have gained more than a few gray hairs in Nicaragua. I believe it is “side effects” such as gray hair and uneasiness that make us gravitate away from difficult situations in search of an easier way to reach our desired results. I know this is true for at least one person as I have been there a number of times in my life. The truth is, sometimes it makes sense to take a step back when we hit a roadblock so that we can look for a better way to go or find someone who is better equipped to handle a certain circumstance. Many times, however, there is only one way to go and we are the best person to take on the daunting task ahead. What if in running away from these moments we are actually harming ourselves instead of helping ourselves?
Currently, I am reading a book by Andy Stanley titled “Visoneering” that talks about the life of a man who has a book of the Old Testament of the Bible named after him, Nehemiah. If you are not familiar with the story of Nehemiah, he was a cup bearer for one of the most powerful kings in the world during one of the lowest points in the history of the people of Israel. Nehemiah, being himself from Israel, had a pretty cushy job and place in life, one that most people would not want to jeopardize. It was at this point in his life that he received a call from God to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. To some this may not seem like a big deal, but it meant requesting that the king allow him to leave his position and provide funds to rebuild a wall that would potentially put the king in a worse strategic position in the future. Additionally, it meant leaving the known for the unknown and risking his life to rebuild a wall around a city he did not live in. It also meant risking his reputation as he did not even know if the people of Jerusalem would want to follow the vision he had been given. Despite all of these difficult things, what was Nehemiah’s answer? “Then I prayed to the God of heaven and, I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’” (Nehemiah 2:4b-5, NIV 1984) He trusted God and left what was easy for what was exceedingly difficult. What was the result? He rebuilt the wall and we are still talking about him today. By running toward the hard, Nehemiah became the person God has designed him to be.
We have the same opportunity Nehemiah had. When we realize the only way forward is to take on the difficult circumstances head on, we need to trust God and walk into the unknown. It is very possible that what we believe is going to harm us is what is actually going to help us become the person God created us to be and help us realize the dreams we thought were too big to ever come true. Every time I decided to move forward in these hard moments, I understand this reality a little more. What difficult situation are you staring at right now? Could it be a “Nehemiah moment” in your life? My hope and prayer is to live into those moments instead of looking for an out. I hope you will consider doing the same.
– James Belt