When I read about tragedies, when I see the life of a family destroyed by the effects of sin, how do I respond? Do I get angry and rant? Do I yell and scream and take my stand?
Nehemiah received news that his people, his extended family that had returned to Israel and specifically to the Holy city of Jerusalem were under constant attack.
“Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. ” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “ Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.
How did Nehemiah respond to the news of his people being ravaged by enemies back in his hometown of Jerusalem? He wept and prayed and fasted. He began to ask God for a role in the rebuilding.
Families in my neighborhood are under attack. They are like sheep without a shepherd. Some don’t know about Jesus yet. What is my role? What is my response? “Too bad for you, I got my Jesus, heaven is for sure for me and mine, you people should get a clue…”
I want to have a heart like Nehemiah.
One other thing that Nehemiah did that I glossed over on my first pass of reading was that Nehemiah acknowledged the sin of his people and he owned it and repented of it.
Nehemiah had it good. Cup bearer to the king. It was a dangerous job but I can imagine that it had some perks. And yet he identified with those of his family that were suffering.
Another thing Nehemiah did was to praise God. He reminded himself as he prayed about the character of God, the great God of love, the great God of compassion, the God who keeps his promises. Even after the 70 year exile and the return to a devastated city, Nehemiah declared God’s goodness and faithfulness as he prayed.
God may I be given a heart like Nehemiah, repentant, worshiping you, dedicated and sensitive to the needs of others. And God use me to touch the lives of my neighbors with your love.