The third chapter of Nehemiah has the phrase “next to” twenty-one times. This chapter describes in detail the families and locations that they were responsible for in rebuilding the wall. That is a powerful phrase when you are in a difficult situation: next to. It is a source of courage and solace to know that you have help at your side in the face of adversity and struggle. It is a blessing to be next to others as they face the struggles of rebuilding what has been broken.
Families should be about that phrase. They should be next to each other in facing this life. They should be next to each other in overcoming obstacles and facing challenges. They should be next to each other when the world is against them. The strength and solidity of community begins at home. If we learn to be next to one another in our families, it prepares and equips us to be next to our extended family in the church.
Our children need be the kind of people who stand next to others, who face challenges with others. They can learn so much from seeing the space next to others as a place of privilege and blessing instead a place of burden duty. For Nehemiah it wasn’t just about rebuilding the wall, it was about rebuilding his people, God’s people. He wanted those community ties to be reconnected and tied even tighter. Every day they worked on the wall, the families of Israel were reminded that they could not do it alone.
We should not be in this alone. We need to have others come and stand next to us when the walls are crumbling and the enemy is threatening to attack. Let’s be families that are next to others in the life of God’s people.
Lord, help me to be a man that is next to my wife and children. Help me lead my children into an understanding of the privilege and blessing of living our lives next to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.