Sometimes there are tragedies in life that seem to overwhelm us to the point of despair. Some strike at the very
core of our faith. Often it seems they are the “starting over from scratch” kind. Things like divorce, death of a
loved one, job loss, bankruptcy, just to name a few. For many people these sorts of tragedies initially come with
some level of support from friends, family, and their church community. But, after the shock wears off, and
after our support system fades some of us find ourselves questioning God, questioning our faith. How do we
move forward? Where do we find the strength, the courage to rebuild our broken faith?
I realize the question is larger than my ability to answer. But, I do have a few suggestions that might help you
rebuild your faith after tragedy.
First, a little background.
The book of Nehemiah reflects the nation of Israel’s re-birth. For about 800 years after the Exodus the
descendants of Abraham lived in the land of Israel. And for most of that time they were halfhearted at best in
their worship of God. Then, after 800 years of warning, God removed the people from the land He had given
them. For seventy years they were in captivity and then in 538 BC Cyrus, the King of Persia sent them back to
Israel. They returned and began to try to rebuild their country, the city of Jerusalem, and their faith.
Like all of us who have faced tragedy, whether brought on by our sin or not, they struggled to start over. Their
initial enthusiasm waned, the realities of life drove them to despair, and shortly they were struggling just to
survive. Huge portions of the city were unoccupied, and the walls of the city were in ruins. Eventually they built
a small temple, but the city of Jerusalem was still in shambles. They were faced with starting over and they
started well. But, it didn’t last.
Sound familiar? Divorce, death, and other tragedies initially hit us hard. Then often we recover and make a good
show of letting people know that we are ok. But, after a while the realities of the new normal set in and we find
ourselves still too wounded and overwhelmed by the size of the task of starting over to continue on. So, we just
Ways to rebuild your broken faith.
The first seven chapters of Nehemiah focus on the rebuilding of a broken community. But for our purposes I
want to focus on the events of chapters 8-10, the rebuilding of a broken faith.
1. Spend time in the Word of God.
Nehemiah 8
There is no shortcut, no pep talk, no medication that will replace the healing power of just spending time
reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God. Many of us would like to feel better instantly. But
that is not the way the universe works. It takes time and the best way to spend that time is in the
Read Nehemiah 8 and mark each reference to the book or law.
Answer the following questions:
©2010-2012 Precept Ministries International-8.25.14
Who read the book of the Law?
What was the response of the people to the truth they heard?
Verse 9
Verse 12
Verses 13-18
2. Confess your personal sin.
Nehemiah 9:1-3
The Word of God changed the hearts, the attitudes of the people. The Word of God exposed their part in
the tragedy. They recognized their sins. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes we have a part to play in
the tragedies we face. If we have sinned, our own sins need to be addressed and confessed.
For example, divorces are rarely the product of only one person. In most cases both parties played a role in
the breakup of the marriage.
Ask yourself if there is any personal sin involved in whatever tragedy you are facing. Then confess it, call it
what it is, and ask God to forgive you for your part, no matter how large or small that may be.
Now, this is the best part. Israel sinned against God and their sin was obvious! But, God did not forsake
them, He did not abandon them. Even in their sin God loved them and took care of them. It is so easy to
forget this, but God will not fail you! He will not leave you or abandon you.
3. Remember what God has done.
Nehemiah 9:5-38.
This assignment is a little long, but it is so worth it! Do not skip this!
Read Nehemiah 9.
Mark each reference to God with a triangle.
List what you learn about God from Nehemiah 9. You don’t need to worry about what is implied; just stick
with the facts. Ask yourself what exactly the text teaches you about God and then write it down.
When you have finished think about the following questions.
Given the context of chapter 8, what was the point of this exercise in the lives of the Jewish people on that
Why would it be helpful in times of deep tragedy to remember what God has already done in your life?
4. Start putting the pieces of your spiritual life back in place.
Nehemiah 10:28-39
©2010-2012 Precept Ministries International-8.25.14
Read Nehemiah 10:28-39.
Mark references to the Jewish people. In verses 28 – 29 watch for “their” and “we.”
List exactly what they have promised to do.
What do their actions have to do with their spiritual life? Or, how are their actions related to their religion?
Wrap up
The people of Israel faced a harsh new reality after returning to the land of Israel. The fear and stress must have
been overwhelming. They felt alone and isolated, much like each of us do when we come through a tragedy.
How do you handle it? What do you do?
 Go back to God. You go back the clear examples in your life of what God has done. Start by spending time
in the Word of God. Too many times pain drives us away from God and His Word when it should drive us
closer to Him. Make up your mind that nothing will separate you from time in the Word.
 Confess any personal sin that the Spirit shows you. Although we all sin, you may not have sinned in this
situation; but if the Holy Spirit points something out, don’t ignore or justify it! Just confess it and turn from
 Journal what you have seen God do in your life. This one exercise might set you free from your pain.
Remembering what God has done as the leaders did in Nehemiah 9 will renew your faith and set your eyes
on heaven instead of the hell you are walking through. Please, if you have a tragedy in your life and you are
in one of those devastating “start over” places in life, try this exercise. Buy a journal or a notebook and
every day take a few minutes to list how you have seen God’s hand at work in your life. You will soon find
yourself overwhelmed by His grace and His goodness.
Then, pick yourself up, dust off your knees, and start doing what you know to do.
The steps are not easy, and pain will tend to make you do nothing. But, we both know that doing something will
lessen the pain and doing nothing only lets the pain grow, dominate, and control. Pray, get up, step out, and
start doing what you know you should be doing.
We have a lot of resources to help you study the Word and find hope in time of crisis. The following links will
take you to our favorites.
Lord, Heal My Hurts
Finding Hope After Divorce
Lord, Where Are You When Bad Things Happen?
©2010-2012 Precept Ministries International-8.25.14
In your pain, remember God will never fail you!
He Never Failed Me Yet – Robert Ray
I will sing of God's mercy
Every day, every hour
He gives me power.
I will sing and give thanks to Thee
For all the dangers, toils and snares
That He has brought me out.
He is my God and I'll serve Him
No matter what the test
Trust and never doubt
Jesus will surely bring you out
He never failed me yet.
I know God is able to deliver
In times of storm
And I know that He'll keep you safe
From all earthly harm.
One day when my weary soul is at rest
I'm going home to be forever blessed
Trust and never doubt
Jesus will surely bring you out
He never failed me yet.
Didn't my God deliver Moses from King Pharaoh?
And didn't He cool the fiery furnace
For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
When I think of what my God can do
He delivered Daniel
I know He will deliver you.
Trust and never doubt
Jesus will surely bring you out
He never failed me yet.
Want more resources like this one? Check out www.precept.org/resource!
©2010-2012 Precept Ministries International-8.25.14