By Toni Ford
Have you ever been burdened by something you see or hear and have become so passionate about wanting to “fix” it, yet you know you cannot by your own efforts?
In the book of Nehemiah, in Chapter 1, we read about a man named Nehemiah who was faced with this exact situation. Nehemiah lived in Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire, and served as the cupbearer to the Persian king. He was a Godly Jew, and although he “had it made” with a well-paying job and great living quarters, he was still concerned about the problems and struggles of his own people, the Jews. He cared deeply about his heritage and his ancestral city of Jerusalem.
In late autumn, Nehemiah’s brother Hanani was returning from Jerusalem to visit his brother. This visit was a turning point in Nehemiah’s life. In this conversation, Nehemiah inquired about the condition of his homeland and the people. Hanani proceeded to tell him that the city was in great trouble and distress. The wall of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates had been destroyed by fire. Nehemiah was so burdened by this news that as soon as he heard it, he sat down and wept. Although Nehemiah was burdened and heavy-hearted, he did not remain there. In verses 4-11 we see Nehemiah turn his focus towards the Lord in four ways.
Worship. The very first thing Nehemiah did was worship the Lord! He recognized who God is: “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands” (verses 4-5).
Repentance. Even though Nehemiah was not living in Jerusalem, he still repented on behalf of his people, the Jews, for turning their backs on God. Verse 7 says, “We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.” Nehemiah called it for what it was – sin – and he repented.
Remembrance. Nehemiah reminded the Lord of His promise to His people: “I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored” (verse 9). Nehemiah found strength in remembering the promises of God to His people and recalling those promises to God.
Prayer. Nehemiah called out to the Lord in prayer and was very specific in his prayers: “O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (verse 11).
When God puts a burden on your heart, do not try to escape it. If you do, you may miss the blessing He has planned for you. Remember what Psalm 30:5 says: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the mornings.”
Father, You know that we are living in some of the most challenging times ever, and we first declare our need for You all over again! We surrender our own lives to You today and pray that rather than us remain in a state of fear, confusion or distress, that we instead come before You in prayer, worship, repentance and remembering Your faithfulness to us in the past.
Thank you, Lord for turning our weeping into joy!
If you would like me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!