Day 1 - Nehemiah 1:1-4, 2:1-5

Making a Positive Impact in Pain

It’s not hard to look around today and see pain and brokenness. A world marred by sin is characterized by all kinds of dysfunction. Everywhere we look, there’s another problem to solve. That same reality was true in the time of Nehemiah. He was a pretty normal guy who heard some bad news that highlighted the pain around him.

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 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. 3 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.” 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

Enter Nehemiah a man who lived in “the citadel of Susa”, a pretty wealthy part of a pretty well-off area. Long story short, he was comfortable. Many of us find ourselves living in relatively comfortable financial situations where we have a level of stability throughout our lives, so we can certainly relate to Nehemiah.

Although Nehemiah was well off and comfortable with what he had and his position, he was still deeply moved and deeply sorrowful over the brokenness in the world. In fact, v.4 says for “some days” he was essentially devoted to mourning! That should drive us to consider the following question:

When was the last time your heart was truly sorrowful considering the pain and brokenness of the world around you? How did that drive you to prayer and connection with God?

The next part of the story is key as we consider how Nehemiah responded. He began by allowing himself to mourn (a good example to follow based on Matthew 5:4) and pray to God. That’s a great first step, but let’s focus on where he went from there:

1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Nehemiah decided to take action. Not only did the brokenness around him grieve him, it drove him not to be paralyzed by his sorrow but to be propelled by it.  He realized he could play a part in bringing good to a hopeless, dire situation.

It’s not hard to look around today and see needs brought about by brokenness. I’m sure most of us feel bad or even sorrowful about it at times. However, Nehemiah shows us that we should consider, and then have the courage to step up and take personal action where we can affect positive change. Consider this today:

How can you "be the good" to/for someone who is hurting today?

Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example of feeling sorrowful over sin and its consequences and letting that drive to ask how we can help be the light that God calls us to be.

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