Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”
~ Ziad K. Abdelnour
After 70 years of exile in Babylon, the Israelites were finally allowed to return to their homeland. Nehemiah led the 3rd group of returning Jews in 444 B.C. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah and his followers discovered the city walls in ruins and Jerusalem utterly defenseless against her taunting enemies. Much to the irritation of the surrounding aggressors, Nehemiah led the people in rebuilding the walls to protect their city.
It wasn’t easy.
The work of rebuilding is hard enough, but they were also under the constant threat of attack from people who were determined to see them fail (Neh 4:11-12). Half of the men worked to rebuild the wall while the other half stood armed and ready to fight off their attackers. The men carried supplies with one hand and their weapon with the other. All the builders had a sword strapped to their side (Neh 4:16-18). They worked this way all day as long as they had even the faintest glimmer of light and they hardly rested at night because they were always on guard (Neh 4:21-23).
But they weren’t alone.
They had each other. They were spread out along the wall, but whenever one was attacked, they all rushed in to defend. No one had to fight alone. It wasn’t “every man for himself.” The weak were never left to fend for themselves. The people completed their work and defended one another as a single cohesive unit. Nehemiah told the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (Neh 4:20)
In our modern lives, we also have a lot of important work do. We face attacks, difficulties, and setbacks too. We may not have neighbors coming at us with swords and spears, but we do have an enemy of our souls who seeks to undo us. And like the Israelites in ancient times, we are very spread out.
What they had that we seem to be missing is the trumpet. They knew the work was hard and the fight was real, but they also understood they didn’t have to do it all alone. Somehow, we’ve forgotten that last part.
People have always lived and worked in community. It’s how we were made to function best. Something about our modern lifestyles and independent American mindset has made us think we can win at life alone. We can’t. If we’re going to succeed, we must learn how to lay down our pride and pick up our trumpet. Asking for help isn’t showing weakness. It’s showing the quiet strength of humility. It’s allowing others to be blessed by helping us. It’s letting others minister to us the way we have ministered to them. It’s the way God intended for life to work.
In the midst of our crisis, at the point of attack we have got to be willing to sound our trumpet and call for help.
First and ultimately, we must sound our trumpet to God. He always hears and knows just what to do. He has been preparing the solution for us before we even knew we had a problem.
Secondly, we must sound our trumpet to others. God loves to work through people, but the Body of Christ doesn’t know where to rally if our trumpets lay quiet on the shelf. We can ask for help in a multitude of areas—prayer support, financial assistance, meals, life coaching, skill development, laundry, listening, wise counsel, house cleaning, tutoring, childcare, getting a ride, mentoring, moral support, … The list is truly endless.[tweetthis]Asking for help isn’t showing weakness. It’s showing the quiet strength of humility.[/tweetthis]
In general, I believe most people really want to help each other, but often we don’t know how. We generically say, “Let me know if you need any help” but rarely does anyone take us up on that offer. It’s hard to know if we are being serious or just being nice.
A friend of mine had to have surgery a few years ago. She let her friends know about small and specific ways we could help her during her recovery. We signed up for various times to lend a hand and did some simple chores that aren’t so simple after you’ve just had surgery. One afternoon, I helped her sort through some things. I did the physical part and she made the decisions. I was so blessed by spending a few hours chatting with her while we worked together. Our friendship grew and I was so thankful she trusted me enough to let me help her. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Helping others to help me blesses them. It seems so backward, but it’s true. We think we are a burden to others if we ask for help, but the opposite is true. Others are blessed when we give them the opportunity to serve in love.
Let’s make it easy for us to serve on another by letting each other know where we need help. Instead of locking people out of our lives or hoping they will magically read our minds, let’s just give them a list. Let’s be clear and specific. It’s okay to say, “Here is what I need help with right now. These may be small and simple, but they are not so simple for me right now. And I will look forward to helping you out another day when our roles are reversed.”
What is something you need help with?
Who can you ask for help?
What can you delegate?
Where are you feeling attacked?
Who has God put in your life to defend and protect you?
What is keeping you from sounding your trumpet?
[tweetthis]Others are blessed when we give them the opportunity to serve us in love.[/tweetthis]
So are you wondering about how things worked out for Nehemiah and the men who served with him? Check this out.
So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.
Nehemiah 6:15-16, NLT
Not only did God grant them protection and success in the work He sent them to do, but their victory was so apparent that even their enemies had to acknowledge God’s greatness in the end. How awesome is that?
When we work together and defend each other by God’s grace and power, there is no enemy that can defeat us. But we have to be able to hear the trumpet call so we know when and where to rally. And we can’t hear the trumpet call for support if you never sound your trumpet when help is needed.
Here’s what we need to do to stand strong against the forces of evil that live to see us fail:
Listen to “Shoulders” by For King and Country and know where you help comes from when you sound your trumpet.
To read other posts in this series, click the image below.
Elizabeth is a military spouse, veteran, and mother of eight. Above and beyond caring for her family, her mission is to offer words that sustain the weary and equip people to live a life of faith filled with purpose.
Learn more at elizmeyers.com.