Some of the verses in the final chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians are appropriate for the conditions we live in today, and Nehemiah is also full of lessons, showing his dedicated effort, despite all kinds of distraction and opposition. He led the people in overcoming these so that the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem was completed in just fifty-two days (6:15). Although the word “faith” is not used (it is largely a New Testament word), the dedication and faith of Nehemiah is unshakable; it can be said that he was a man who had “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) as Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to do.
Paul told them, “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (verses 9,10). His words are full of practical advice, “Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient …” (verses 13,14).
It is a challenge to find and maintain inner peace when the world is increasingly without peace! It demands that we note Paul’s prophecy that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them …” (verses 2,3). They will only be talking about the urgent need for it but they will not achieve it! It is important for us, when that happens, to have on “the breastplate of faith” living in every situation in ways that show we really “are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness” (verse 5) even though the darkness is suffocating.
Let us follow the example of Nehemiah, who, in the face of increasing opposition prayed, “… now, O God, strengthen my hands” (6:9). Let us say the same because we have put on “the breastplate of faith”.