What breaks your heart?
Is there anything in your life that grieves you or breaks your heart? Have you ever considered that God can use your grief for good and for His glory? He absolutely can! Many ministries have been born out of a burden. In fact, God can use your pain to create a passionate calling in your life!
That is exactly what God did with Nehemiah in the Bible. For nearly 150 years, the protective wall that surrounded the city of Jerusalem had laid in ruins following the Babylonian’s invasion. After years in captivity, and being scattered all over the known world, many of the Israelites were returning home. While the temple had been rebuilt, the wall was left in shambles which caused the Jews living there to be at risk and ashamed.
When Nehemiah’s brother Hanani visited him where he was serving the Persian king Artaxerxes as cupbearer, Hanani told him how exposed and disgraced those who had returned to Jerusalem were. (Neh. 1:3). When Nehemiah heard that, he “sat down and wept. For days, he wept, fasted and prayed." (Neh. 1:4). Now the question is, what would Nehemiah do with his grief?
When we are grieved and in pain, we have some options: We can wallow in it, ignore it, distract ourselves from it, or we can do something good with it! That leads us to the first lesson in Nehemiah’s story…. Lesson #1 - God can use your grief for good and for His glory!
God used Nehemiah’s pain to ignite in Him a passionate calling. And he can do the same in your life! I see it all the time. I wonder how God might use grief in your life to ignite a passionate calling to make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ?
But Nehemiah also teaches us…. Lesson #2 - Before acting on your passion, pray fervently! 4 …For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4. When we read Nehemiah’s prayer (Neh 1:5-11), we pick up three essential components for prayer:
1) Celebrate God’s awesomeness and love! (Neh. 1:5). God is awesome; so tell him that! That is a great first step to take when you are despondent or discouraged or disappointed. The next time you are down and out, think about how awesome and loving God is, and tell Him! It will change your mindset and transform your emotions from dejection to celebration! (Ps. 36:7)
2) Confess and repent of your sin and failures. (Neh 1:6). Sin always leads to grief and despair. We can’t move past any grief long term in our lives when sin is present. Confess and turn in the other direction. (1 John 1:9)
3) Ask for success that comes from following God’s will! (Neh. 1:11). Nehemiah knew that to be successful, He needed God’s help! He planned to ask Artaxerxes for permission to go help rebuild the wall, but he didn’t want to take a step without the Lord fully behind him. Smart move! Do you pray for success? When you are following God’s will, you will find success. (Jn 15:7; Phil. 2:13)
When Nehemiah got a chance to appear before the king, Artaxerxes noticed that Nehemiah was down, so he asked him what was wrong. That opened the door for Nehemiah to ask for his permission to go help lead the wall reconstruction project. Amazingly, King Artaxerxes not only agreed to let Nehemiah go do it, but he sent a calvary with him to protect him on his journey! Nehemiah gave God credit for that…
8 …And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. New. 2:8
Lesson #3 - When God inspires us to do good work for His glory, He gives us what we need to succeed! Nehemiah knew that he had what he needed to succeed because God’s gracious hand was on him! When you have a task before you - a sincere calling, born out of your own grief - God will give you what you need to succeed. We see that over and over in God’s word. (2 Tim. 4:17).
I’ve experienced that in my life again and again! Watermark Church is a prime example of that. Our church was born out the grief that Lori and I shared that there wasn’t a church like Watermark in our community. God used that grief to inspire a calling in us to help start Watermark. His gracious hand has been on this work every step of the way! So many wonderful people have come alongside us to partner with us in ministry here. Together, we are seeing lives changed as we make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ!
Nehemiah couldn’t build that wall alone. God sent many to come alongside him to help do the work. Even if you don’t have a passionate calling, God can and will use you to assist others in doing good work and bringing Him glory!
We have a new ministry starting next month for children and families called American Heritage Girls and Trail Life for Boys that was born out of a Watermark mom’s grief that her young daughter might be wrongly influenced by culture. She wanted to make sure that her daughter learned Godly values and developed the character of Christ. This ministry will help her and her husband disciple her child, and they will be discipled too.
Of course, Nehemiah faced challenges. Some enemies did not want that wall rebuilt. At one point during construction, Nehemiah had to take half of his workers to stand guard for the other half as they worked. Lesson #4 - Doing good work for God’s glory doesn’t mean the road will be easy… but it’s so worth it!
I’m sure that there were times when Nehemiah wanted to give up or throw in the towel, but he didn’t! He faithfully trusted that God would give him what He needed to get the job done. He never forgot that “God’s gracious hand was on him.”
For much more, click here to listen to: Heroes: Part 12 - Nehemiah.