Have you ever been overwhelmed with weakness and fear? I dare say that all of us have been at times. When this happens, our relationship with God is frayed. That makes us like God’s people in scripture. They were often dominated by weakness and fear, which caused them to be separated from God. The account of the Israelites is one of sin and redemption; separation and salvation; weakness and strength; fear and courage.
In the book of Haggai, the prophet encouraged the people to complete the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. They had built and dedicated the foundation of the temple but were stymied by — you guessed it — weakness and fear. After several years, with the encouragement of Haggai and under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest, the rebuilding project was finally completed.
Part of Haggai’s encouragement is found in Haggai 2:4-5 (NIV): “‘…[B]e strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua…Be strong, all you people of the land.’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'”
When we are burdened with weakness and fear, our progress as God’s people will be limited, if not stopped entirely. That’s when we must hear God’s voice telling us to be strong; do not fear. Do we then just snap out of it? Probably not.
We begin remembering that God’s spirit remains among. We ask God’s spirit to embrace us. We keep reaching for God’s spirit until we are connected. And, as Haggai said, we work. Just as the Israelites did, we can break out of our weakness and fear and accomplish God’s purpose.