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To Ezra and Nehemiah fell the thankless task of welding a few forlorn and factious remnants into a surface semblance of national unity, while the enemy derided the pitifully small results and those who remembered the former things wept at the comparison.
Discouragement at times must have assailed these men at the hopelessness of their task in their "day of small things," but a broader view of their position would carry them on.
At all times, the issue is an individual one, and the personal relation to God is the important factor. This does not change, though outward circumstances may vary greatly, and therefore true satisfaction and confidence lies not in our material circumstances or visible accomplishments, but in our proper adjustment to them according to the expressed wisdom of God.
Though destined to live during times of national collapse and humiliation, this conviction of the passing and secondary nature of present things would provide all these men alike with a basic consolation. Truly they grieved sincerely over the unhappy state of affairs, and labored heroically to alleviate it, but they realized that behind all temporary and surface calamities the eternal purpose was moving forward, unaffected by the failures of men.
This did not, of course, relieve them from doing their part in their day and generation, but it softened the bitterness and despondency that external conditions would generate.
In their day, their heaven and earth were being shaken. Things which had appeared stable were collapsing. And with the collapse of the external things went the collapse of the faith of many.
It was a time for determining what things were passing and incidental, and what things were fixed and eternal. Those whose faith had related to temporal prosperity and safety in the land were cast adrift. Only those held firm who saw deeper, and realized that faith in God means more than merely expecting His favour and protection, and must carry through times of darkness as well as times of light.
Bro Growcott - The hand of our God is upon us