PUCKETT: What to do when you do not know what to do?

Have you listened to the news lately? Are you confused, discouraged, outraged? Maybe all of these, but regardless of what we perceive, we must persevere. We may not be able to do much, but we can do something. And that something just might make a difference.

There is a story in the Bible, in the Old Testament, about a man named Nehemiah. The book in the Bible containing the story of Nehemiah is named Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was an exile. His people had been captured and carried away from their homeland in Israel. Circumstances had improved for the people of Israel, and many of the former exiles had been allowed to return to Jerusalem. Nehemiah was still an exile and was a servant to a pagan king.

Some of Nehemiah’s relatives had made a trip to Israel and, upon return, told Nehemiah that the conditions in Israel were not good. They had rebuilt the Temple, but the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins because the walls that formerly had afforded safety were broken down and useless.

Nehemiah had a deep love for his homeland and when he heard the news, he was devastated. The first thing he did was mourn, and then he prayed. He had to find a way to get back to Jerusalem to help out, even though he was, literally, a captive slave. Nehemiah’s prayer and urgent burden carried to heaven and also to the king who was Nehemiah’s boss. Nehemiah was granted permission and also given provisions for the trip to Jerusalem.

Nehemiah had no authority in the matter, but his burden and call to action quickly spread to the other former exiles in Jerusalem who rallied to the cause. Nehemiah was convinced that, for Jerusalem to prosper, the city needed the security of walls and gates. (The fact that “walls” are in dispute in our land, right now, really has nothing to do with this story.)

Nehemiah led the people and they courageously rebuilt the walls in 52 days.

In our case, and in our land, there may be more of a need to tear down some walls rather than building walls. Not literal walls, but walls of distrust, politically-based conflict, and false information communicated with bias. We may not be able to do much, but we can do something. We can love the person in front of us. Even though you might count that person an enemy to your way of thinking, you can still love them, by considering their needs and trying to help meet those needs.

Now is not the time to stand by our opinions nor seek ways to buttress those opinions. The truth usually lies somewhere between opposing viewpoints.

Seek the common ground and the common good. Most people are not mean and vicious; they just disagree with you. It is time for love and understanding.

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