How many times have you presented an idea, and been told ‘We can’t do that.’ Or ‘We don’t have the people for that?’
I am going to guess that if you live in a rural or small town, you have heard that more often than most would care to admit. Now this is not necessarily fatalism, it is reality. The reality is that it takes people to do things, to make things work. It stands to reason that if you are short on people, both in the present and in the future, you are going to shy away from doing things that are challenging.
But what if I told you that there was a group of people who entered into a seemingly impossible situation, with limited people and limited resources, and yet, got the job done?
In the books of Nehemiah and Ezra, that is exactly what happened.
In the book of Nehemiah, a remnant return from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem, and they rebuild the walls of the city. It was not easy, it took time, and they had to come up with some creative solutions, including having one man stand guard, while another worked on the wall with a sword strapped to his side.
And yet, you know what? The Lord was on their side and they got the job done.
In the book of Ezra, the people who returned are concerned with rebuilding their own homes while the temple sat in shambles. So again, a group got together, and they got the temple put back together.
Again, the Lord was on their side, and they got the job done.
Now the point here is not aesthetic beauty or glory; those who remembered the temple before exile openly wailed at the sight of the considerably less glorious new temple. The point is that a small and committed group of people got the job done.
The Lord was with the people in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra, and He blessed their efforts in rebuilding the walls and the temple, so much so that others, who were earlier reluctant to return, came back as a result of the efforts of those who first returned from exile.
Now there is hardly a guarantee for success here; but there is encouragement for those who labor. A small and faithful group rebuilt Jerusalem, and in time, others began to return; and the more that returned, the more that got done. And eventually, King Herod came to power, and despite his other actions, did restore some of the beauty and glory to the temple.
To those in rural and small towns, you do not labor in vain. Your work is slow, it is laborious, and it may at times seem quite frustrating; but it does not go unnoticed. There is no job to great, no task to arduous, no labor impossible. If a group of exiles can rebuild Jerusalem much to the dismay of those nations that surrounded them, and much to the surprise of their fellow countrymen, then why can your community not also be rebuilt?