October 7, 2016
You Can Overcome!
And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1:3-4
In 1880, the French, bolstered by a recent success in building the Suez Canal, decided to undertake the digging of the Panama Canal. They envisioned a fifty-mile passage running at sea level, which would require no locks. Unfortunately, after thirteen years of difficult work to remove seventy-seven million cubic feet of dirt, there had been 22,000 deaths among workers (mostly from malaria and yellow fever) and a great deal of digging still remained. Keeping an experienced workforce was impossible given the number of deaths, which, along with other unexpected challenges, led the French to abandon the task.
Though completion seemed hopeless, the United States bought out the French interests and restarted work on the canal in 1904. By then, the cause of disease among French workers had been traced to mosquitoes, so the Americans’ first step was to eliminate that threat. They also redesigned the canal to include locks that would raise the ships higher, thus greatly reducing the amount of digging needed to complete the project. The canal, once believed impossible to accomplish, was formally opened in August of 1914.
Our focus verses are from another example of overcoming circumstances that once appeared insurmountable. Although Nehemiah had never lived in Jerusalem, he wept when he heard that the Israelite captives who had returned there were under great oppression, and that the city walls remained broken down and its gates burned. However, instead of just dwelling in grief, Nehemiah beseeched God to give him mercy in the sight of the king of Persia and an opportunity to go to the city to rebuild. As a result, the king not only granted Nehemiah permission to go to Jerusalem, but also gave him letters that would ensure his safe passage, and provided timber for reconstruction. Nehemiah faced challenges along the way, but he remained steadfast and the walls were successfully completed.
In our Christian lives, we may also face situations that seem impossible. We might even begin to think that doing nothing would be easier than trying to overcome and win the victory. However, if we earnestly ask the Lord for His help and willingly take the necessary steps to prevail, God will go before us and help us conquer whatever obstacles come our way. We do not need to live in defeat; just as God did for Nehemiah, He can make the impossible possible for us! If you are facing an overwhelming circumstance, take it to the Lord in prayer and He will make a way for you to overcome!