Today we see Nehemiah get permission from the king to return to Jerusalem and begin to rebuild its walls. What I want us to especially look at is how Nehemiah calls his countrymen to action. He says, "Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” (v. 17) He points out the consequences of past mistakes that they have been living in the middle of for years. Imagine walking in the middle of a city every day where there are ruined walls and buildings lying everywhere. Sure, there is a nice new temple in the middle, but the city still bears the signs of destruction all around it. The people had grown used to this. It might trouble them deep down, but they just kept their heads down and kept working on their day to day lives. Nehemiah says, "Let's build these walls again and stop being defined by our failures."
What gives him this hope that they can rebuild? How is he able to inspire the people to wake up to how they are being defined by failure and to move forward? He doesn't tell them how great they are ... because they still have issues. He told them about how God's hand had been upon him. He had dared to believe that God's mercies were new every day and that His steadfast love never fails. And, lo and behold, he found that God was working ... God was working "for good". (v. 18) Once the people believed that God hadn't forsaken them and that He still wanted to use them for good, they got up and started building. Child of God, if you are walking around your own ruined city: wake up, agree with God about how you got there and believe that His love will still use you for good.