So I’m in a sort of a “series” about how God encourages his people to keep going in the face of discouragement. I blogged about my recent deep discouragement two days ago.
And I shared a lesson in yesterday’s blog about how to keep moving forward in the face of discouragement. These are lessons from Israel’s leaders who rebuilt the temple of God despite neighbors who tried mightily to discourage them.
Fast forward a few decades, and King Artaxerxes has sent Ezra back to Jerusalem to reinstate temple practices and teaching. Even though this king of Persia is a “heathen,” he wants Israel’s God on his side!
There are no enemies trying to discourage Ezra in today’s passage – so nothing to overcome. Yet, Ezra still finds courage to do the work – because he has the blessing, financial backing, and protection of the Persian king:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me. Ezra 7: 27-28
Ezra understands that the secular support for his venture does not stand alone – it’s a gift from the Lord. The king supports Ezra’s activities because God is in loving control – and his hand is on Ezra.
Scripture says that “Ezra had sat his heart to study the Law of the Lord and to do it and to teach his statues and rules in Israel.” (7:10) King Artaxerxes sends Ezra back to do this very thing – set up temple worship and teach the law.
God put this calling on Ezra’s heart, then made sure he had all he needed to do the work. And from God’s blessings, Ezra derives courage.
The lesson for me? Sometimes I feel inadequate to the task – at work and at home. But these are my callings, and God will provide what I need to do the job to which He called me. And in that I can find courage.
Dear Lord: I know I have what I need, but I still feel overwhelmed in some arenas – as You know. Could You give me an Artaxerxes moment to impart a bit of courage? Thanks. Amen.