God Used Nehemiah to Encourage Me

God works in amazing ways! He knows when we need His encouragement and reassurance, and God provides these needs by communicating with His people via the Holy Spirit and God’s written word, The Holy Bible.

During these last days prior to Jesus coming back for the church, the Bible warns people about many false Christ’s who come to deceive people, many wars and rumors of war, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. God’s people will go through tribulation, some will be killed and all will be hated because of their beliefs about Christ Jesus. Lawlessness will abound and the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:1-14 NKJV)

As we see these signs coming true all around us, including Covid-19, we can get discouraged and overwhelmed. God sees us and knows when to encourage us. One day, in the spring of 1996, I was in a place of discouragement and feeling overwhelmed. I thought the bottom had fallen out of my life and future, and I was left feeling helpless. I felt like I had a rug pulled out from under me and I was suspended in air, expecting to fall on my face at any moment. I didn’t know how to fix any of the circumstances that plagued me. Nor did I know how to move forward in my life or which direction to go. Consequently, I sat in my office chair, stared at my computer screen and begin to cry as Satan bombarded my mind with thoughts like “My whole life is falling apart right before my eyes and there is nothing I can do about it.”

Throughout my life I have been plagued with feeling unaccepted and worthless. When I came to know Jesus Christ all of that changed. He accepts me for who I am and values me a great deal. He even died on the cross at Calvary to pay the penalty for my sins and to gift me the gifts of eternal life, forgiveness, salvation, adoption into His family and a great inheritance. God is changing me from the inside out. I am a work in progress and I still battle with many past hurts and bad memories. Yet I know God will be faithful to complete the work He has begun in me.

These feelings of worthlessness were magnified in years of abuse I endured from being married to an alcoholic. After six years of daily abuse (mental, physical and verbal), I finally divorced my first husband so my two sons and I could begin a new life apart from abuse. Yet Satan tried to heap piles of condemnation and guilt on me for breaking up my family. Satan kept bombarding my mind with thoughts like “It’s your fault your husband was an alcoholic and you were the cause of marriage failure.” I finally got some counsel and found out it was all a lie. Though I had issues that didn’t help the situation, I did not cause my husband to drink and my marriage to fail. It was all a lie Satan used to try to get me depressed and discouraged.

In 1975 my parents purchased shares in a small office supply business. In 1978 my first husband and I worked for them. My husband worked as an office machine repairman. I occasionally worked part-time, temporary jobs such as helping with inventory or doing light bookkeeping. When my first son was born in February of 1980, I quit work and stayed home to care for him. In 1984, my second son was born and I stayed home and chased after two small children all day long.

In 1986 my divorce was finalized and my two sons and I moved in with my parents in Sandpoint, Idaho. We stayed with them for about six months. During this time, I looked for work but nobody seemed to want to take a chance with someone who had been out of the workforce for four years. Finally, my parents gave me a job in Sandpoint office supply store. I worked full time as a cashier—sales clerk and I enjoyed the interaction with the customers.

In January of 1987 my family of three moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Sandpoint. With God’s intervention, help from my family, and child support from the children’s father, we began to adjust to the change, heal up from the emotional trauma, and move forward in our new life. Later we moved into a three-bedroom apartment in the same complex so the boys could each have their own bedroom.

In 1990 my parents sold their office supply business, now consisting of three stores, and retired. They spent a few years traveling to Mexico during the winter and coming home in the spring. Eventually my parents and my sister moved to Arizona to get away from the cold north Idaho winters.

Since my family of three had finally settled in to our new home and my oldest son was attending school, I didn’t want to uproot my family again to move to Arizona. Besides, I love the evergreen trees, lakes, and mountains that surround my hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho. I would have been homesick within a week of moving into the desert area. In addition, I don’t fare well in hot weather. Therefore, I chose to remain in Sandpoint but we missed my family a great deal.

I continued working in that Sandpoint Office Supply store and watched to see how the new owners operated the business. My heart sank when I realized they didn’t seem to care about the customers or the employees. In addition they kept asking me to lie to the customers and tell them their copier supplies were on backorder when the supplier was not shipping out the order because the bill was not paid on time. They also wanted me to lie about warranty repairs and other issues. I refused to lie for them and requested to be moved out of the service department and put back out on the sales floor. I know some people were not happy about this but it was the right thing for me to do. I also knew I was no longer happy working in that place and it would soon be time to move on. Yet I didn’t quit my job because I didn’t have a new job lined up and I didn’t want to forfeit my unemployment benefits.

For a few more years I stayed working at the office supply store. I watched as these three new owners drained the life, money and net worth out of the stores that my parents poured 15 years of their life, money and time to build up. It broke my heart to see the great devastation happening around me every day as I worked.

From 1991 to 1994 I met and came to know my neighbor, Steve, who lived in an apartment a few doors down from us, in the same complex. As Steve and I got to know each other, God used us to help heal one another from past bad relationships. We fell in love and got married in 1994. Steve encouraged me to endure through this trying time. He also brought added income into our household which helped lesson the stress I carried with me through this trial.

Finally, in 1996, the day came when the personnel manager called me into her office to cut my hours from full time to four hours a week, on Saturday. When I asked her why they were doing this, she started down a list of rehearsed half-truths and lies they made up to get rid of me. I confronted her and told her I wanted to know the truth. The personnel manager quickly called up the lady that managed all three stores, and she came to talk to me.

This lady manager had previously been fired by my parents for promiscuity with sales representatives who came to visit our stores. She also had an alcohol addiction. This lady was rehired by the manager whom my father had in place when he sold the stores. Somehow this woman managed to convince the new owners to hire her and later to fire the present store manager and let her manage the three office supply stores.

When this lady manager came in to the personnel office I asked her why she was cutting my hours back. She started down the same rehearsed list of half-truths and lies that the personnel manager had tried to use to convince me. I told her I knew that list was a bunch of lies and I wanted to know the real reason why she was cutting my hours back.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing about your religion around here,” she said loudly in front of the personnel manager. The ironic part of this was that I rarely, if ever, spoke to her about my Christian beliefs because I knew she believed in reincarnation as was not open to the gospel.

I do admit having conversations about my Christian beliefs with many customers whom I knew were also Christians. However, I avoided controversial topics because I didn’t want any conflict in the store. Our discussions were brief moments and generally about how the customers were doing or what activities their church was doing. I tried to encourage those who were struggling. Then we would quickly go to find the office products they needed.

After finally hearing the truth for having my hours cut back, I proceeded to speak with the office secretary who was a Christian sister and friend. I told her what happened and that I could get the manager lady—and possibly the store owners—in a lot of trouble if I reported what had happened. The secretary went to speak with the store owner and eventually came back with a check for me that was equal to the amount of the three weeks of paid vacation I had coming. I finally went home. Afterwards, I worked three or four of those short Saturday shifts. Finally the lady manager called me into her office and fired me.

A few days later I went to work for the competition, a book and office supply store that was about two blocks away from my former job. I worked in that store for about a year. During the last few months of my employment, the boss asked me to train two new girls. These girls were energetic and would jump in and do tasks without knowing the correct procedure. They just wanted the job done, even if they did it wrong. They would not wait while I finished the sale with my customer or finished filling out the paper I was working on so I could show them how to do the job correctly. Consequently several mistakes were made and I ended up getting fired for it.

Later I spoke with the store owner and he admitted he didn’t know who was responsible for the chaos and confusion. I told him my side of the story. He was cordial and listened but did not change his mind and hire me back. Years later I realized the chaos and confusion was from Satan, the Christians’ adversary who is out to rob, kill, and destroy God’s people.

In 1996, after enduring the marriage failure and being fired from two jobs, I sat in my office chair, staring at my computer screen, weeping and wondering, “Now what, Lord? No one will hire me now because of my past record. Selling office products is the only job I know. I’ve applied at every place in town that I know sells office products and haven’t heard a word from anyone. Nobody seems to be willing to give me another chance. What about the future of my family? How can I help provide the things they need?”

I looked down at my desk and noticed my Bible. I flipped open the pages and looked down at a page that had the title “Nehemiah” on it. Suddenly a couple of verses seemed to leap off of the page at me:  “And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’” (Nehemiah 4:14 NKJV)

At that moment I knew God was still with me and He would help me. I also knew He was bigger and more powerful than all of my problems. I knew God wanted me to keep moving forward, keep looking for work, and keep trusting Him to lead and guide me. So I picked myself up, read through the book of Nehemiah, and began moving on. I searched for employment a few more weeks and finally God answered my prayers.

As I walked in to a local fast-food restaurant to put my application in, I had no idea that God was going to work a miracle in my life. I did not know the restaurant manager was a Christian sister and friend with whom I had worked, doing Children’s Church for over a year. As we did the Children’s church service my friend, Norma, and I got to know one another fairly well. Apparently God had positioned Norma so she would see me come through the kitchen with the other job applicants on our way to view a video and do paperwork in the break room. I submitted my application, with my new last name and previous employment record. A few days later, this restaurant called me in for an interview.

Norma listened as I explained what had happened that caused me to get fired from my previous two jobs. She asked a few questions which I answered. Then she said something like this, “Robin, I know these bad things that happened were not your fault.” She hired me to work full time (six-hour shifts) in the grill area where they do food preparation and build the sandwiches. I worked about eight years in that kitchen area learning how to prepare the food and then teaching others how to do the same. During this time, I also worked part-time for a few years while I attended Journalism classes at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

In conclusion, God used scripture from the Biblical book of Nehemiah to remind me of His great power, to reassure me of His love and that He was with me in the midst of the struggle, and to encourage me to press on even when the situation looked impossible.

Our God (Father, Son-Jesus, and The Holy Spirit) is the miracle worker! Circumstances that are impossible for people to overcome are opportunities for God to work and to display His awesome love, might, power and strength to the world who desperately needs to see them and believe. Furthermore, when impossible circumstances oppress God’s people, He comes to deliver, protect, and rescue them from danger. God does this because He loves people, especially His own!

So be encouraged. God loves you. If you find yourself in a place of disillusionment and being overwhelmed, turn to God. Ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins and invite Him to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior. Ask Him to fight the battle for you. Then stand back, wait, do what God tells you to do, and watch to see the deliverance of the Lord. If you have already been born again, do the same. Then know that God will fight on your behalf because He is faithful and He loves you dearly!

For an example of the deliverance of God, read the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:1-21. It is also another great encouragement. “…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14 NKJV)

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