‘They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them’ Nehemiah 9.17
This chapter presents us with a picture of people walking away from God, even though he was present with them. If they had stopped to wonder where God was they might have discovered that he had never gone away! It would not be him who had distanced himself, but rather the people themselves who had wandered off. God is portrayed as the one who never changes; always forgiving, gracious and compassionate.
The circumstances of your life may be different from the challenges in the days of Nehemiah, but the same truth still remains: God is always forgiving, gracious and compassionate. If there have been moments in your life when you particularly sensed the love and presence of God, the truth is that he was no more present or loving to you then than he is right now - you simply had a different perception of it. Similarly, at times when God seems absent or uncaring, the reality is that he has not changed and it is simply your perception that is different.
Right now, God is forgiving, gracious and compassionate to you. He has never changed or gone away, so spend a few minutes with him – speaking to him and receiving from him.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission