Seniors of faith probably know that every piece of God's Word is worthy of teaching and meditating on. The New Testament tells us this pretty explicitly. But you also probably have some favorite stories and passages you return to time after time — verses of comfort that speak to you.
Whether the story told in the book of Nehemiah is one of those comfort passages or not, it has a lot to offer seniors — especially those who are making the move to or trying to live abundantly in an assisted living community.
Check out these five lessons from Nehemiah for seniors and how they're relevant to your life in an assisted living community.
The book of Nehemiah begins with a first-person account from Nehemiah, who was the cup-bearer to the king of Persia at the time. He's also a Jew.
At this point in Israel's history, Ezra has returned from captivity to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. But there are still a lot of problems for the Jewish remnant in Jerusalem, and Nehemiah hears from his brother and some other men who have traveled to Jerusalem and back. They tell him the wall is broken, the gates are burned and the people are in great trouble.
Nehemiah is heartbroken for this circumstance, but he doesn't rage about it to others or jump immediately into action. Instead, he fasts and prays for "some days."
Whether you're contemplating a move into an assisted living community, dealing with an annoyance with your neighbor or facing a potential health trial, you can do the same as a senior of faith. Start praying even if you aren't sure what is happening, how you feel about any of it or what all your options might be. It's never too early to come to God with a concern.
One of the powerful messages of Nehemiah is how much you can accomplish when you align yourself with the will and plan of God. Nehemiah and his followers do what seems to be the impossible because they are doing what God has called them to do.
You don't have to rebuild a wall to do the will of God. Sometimes, simply waking up each day and making the most of your time with others and with God is what you're being called to do. Something as simple as praying in your assisted living apartment or reaching out to comfort a fellow resident is as big as building a wall if it's what God is calling you to do.
Even seniors with a long history of faith can fall prey to human thinking. Human thinking likes to put many limits on what is possible. But the Bible tells us that with God, anything is possible.
Nehemiah asks God to give him favor with the king. He then approaches the king and asks to be allowed to go to Jerusalem and attend to the work of rebuilding the wall. The king grants his request and provides him with a wide range of resources, including letters documenting the king's support and items for rebuilding.
Don't be afraid to come before God with your requests. Know that he will answer in his own way, but that he is capable of everything you could imagine and more.
But don't expect that God will do for you what he has done for others. You are not your neighbor, and God doesn't treat his children as if they were all the same people. His plan for you is different, and outside of sufficient grace given freely, what he provides to each person is unique.
Just look at the two men who rebuilt the temple and the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah starts out with the support of a king but the Bible doesn't tell us about anyone who comes to Jerusalem with him to help with this effort in the beginning. Ezra also has support from the king, but he comes with many people who are ready to take up leadership roles under Ezra's guidance. Each man faces different challenges and is given unique resources — just as you have resources that differ from your neighbor's.
At the point that Nehemiah enters Jerusalem, Israel has been through years of internal strife and sin as well as external conflict. If Israel was a person with this history, it would be easy to question whether he could turn his life around.
But seniors of faith know that it's never too late to make a new start. And if you're doing so within an assisted living community, know that you have plenty of resources to help you build a metaphorical city for the next chapter of your life. That includes other residents who may offer friendship, caring staff and flexible services to meet your needs.