Reality Check

Joel Plantinga

READ : Nehemiah 1:1-3

“The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down.” (v. 3)

The phrase “ignorance is bliss” comes from a poem written by Thomas Gray in 1742. In it, he contrasts the playful innocence of youth with the cruel experiences of fear, anger, shame, and unrequited love that life often brings. In his conclusion, Gray asserts that “where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.”

Jerusalem’s ruin was a source of great shame for the people who had returned from exile. Everybody knew it, but only Nehemiah stepped forward to get an accurate assessment of the problem. In doing so, he took the first step toward a new future for Israel. Any great undertaking for a better future demands a sober awareness of reality as it is now.

Sometimes we would rather just not know the extent of the trouble we are in. Whether it’s a number like our weight or something less measurable like a broken relationship, it can be soothing to ignore reality. Ignorance is bliss. However, ignorance doesn’t help our situation and makes it less likely that we’ll ever do anything to change.

What are the areas of your life that God wants to rebuild? Are you willing to honestly survey the extent of the problem?


Lord, give me the courage to face my realities. Amen.