Haggai called the returning remnant of Israel to think about their situation. They had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, but they had focused their attention on building lives for themselves. They expected God to bless them as they built their lives on the land of promise. God did not bless them. Their crops did not produce as expected. The work was hard and tedious and showed little progress. The people were discontent and discouraged. God has brought about in your lives situations to remind you that life without God is genuinely meaningless and unproductive. Haggai challenged them all to see the situation as it was. The people listened! Haggai 1:12-15 says, “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, I am with you, declares the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius, the king.”

No matter what’s going on in your life, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” He is especially with us when He calls us to fulfill our missions in life. When Jesus was about to depart from the earth for the last time, he gave his followers a commission. Just as Haggai gave the Israelites a commission from God, Jesus gave his followers a commission from God. He tells them to make disciples of all nations and adds, “Behold, I am with you always.” Acts 18:9-10 tells us that one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.” The Handbook of Bible Promises informs us that Jesus is with us in every situation of life. “He encourages us in times of difficulty.” Jesus sent Paul to Rome in Acts 23, and the text tells us that Jesus “stood next to Paul and said, ‘Take courage.’” Jesus is also with us when it hurts. “He comforts us in times of sorrow. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In addition, He is with us in our failures and frailties. “He strengthens us in times of weakness.” In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us what he learned about Jesus as we face our weaknesses. He says, “I will boast about my weaknesses.” He adds that by doing so, Christ’s power will rest on him.”[1]

Haggai wants the returning remnant to realize that they are not alone. God is with them.  You and I are not alone, either.  This realization will stir up the spirit in our lives. There is nothing that might enter our lives that will destroy us. God’s assurances to His people in the Prophets are God’s assurances to us as well since we have been adopted into God’s family. We read in Isaiah 43:1-5, “Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. If you cross over water, I am with you, or over rivers. They will not overwhelm you. If you pass through the fire, you will not be scorched. The flames will not burn you, for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. For you are precious in my sight; you are honored, and I love you. So I set aside people in your stead, nations in exchange for your life. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.”[2] I like what Colin Smith says, “You will face many struggles and will have defeats as well as victories, but you are not alone in this battle: The Spirit of God is within you, and that is what makes the Christian life possible. The Christian life is all about the proper application of overwhelming force. Never say you are Helpless when the Spirit of God lives in you.”[3]

[1] Beaumont, Mike, and Martin Manser. 2020. The Handbook of Bible Promises.

[2] Blenkinsopp, Joseph. 2008. Isaiah 40–55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 19A. Anchor Yale Bible. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

[3] Smith, Colin S. 2002. Unlocking the Bible Story. Vol. 4. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.