Nehemiah had a heart for the things of God. Here he was living in a palace miles from Jerusalem and serving King Artaxerxes, but his mind was on the things of God. He inquired about the state of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah heard that the wall was in ruins and the city was in distress, he was immediately burdened to the point of tears. Sometimes God allows our hearts to break over things that also break his heart so that we will develop a passion for the work that God has in store for us. God planned for Nehemiah to be a leader in the endeavor to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so he allowed Nehemiah to feel pain over the state of the city.
Nehemiah was so overcome with sadness that he mourned, fasted, and prayed for many days. One commentary I read said that Nehemiah fasted and prayed for four months before he went to Jerusalem to oversee the building of the wall. He didn’t just say a passing prayer and leave it at that. Nehemiah was filled with a passion for Jerusalem and the state of his nation. He began his heartfelt prayer with praise, acknowledging who God is. Then he confessed his sin and the sin of the people of Israel. When it came time to ask God to move on their behalf, he did so by praying scripture. He recalled the words of the Lord from Deuteronomy 30:1-5.
Warren Wiersbe, in his book The Integrity Crisis, shares a story about Will Rogers. One time Will visited polio victims, patients with broken backs, and others with physical handicaps at the Milton H. Berry Institute. He was jovial and brought laughter to those gathered to hear him when he suddenly left the platform. Milton Berry followed Will to the men’s room. When he opened the door, there was Mr. Rogers leaning against the wall as tears racked his body. Milton closed the door and a few minutes later, Rogers returned to the platform and continued bringing laughter to the hurting. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, pp. 75-76.)
Nehemiah felt anguish over Jerusalem. Will Rogers felt anguish over the state of the patients he stood before. Their anguish led them to action and empowered them to do the work at hand. Will you allow God to break your heart? When he does, will you accept the pain and allow it to move you to action first through repentant prayer, then later to the direction that God leads?
I Corinthians 7:1-24
The Corinthian church asked Paul several questions, which he addressed in this passage. He gave direction about sexual relationships between husband and wife, marriage, divorce, and singleness. In verse 17 he said, “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you…” There is such good wisdom in this verse. If you are married, serve God in that marriage. If you are single, serve him in your singleness. If you’re divorced, serve God in your situation.
How much time we waste in seeking greener pastures! I look back on the years before I married and wish that I had not wasted so much time worrying about finding “the one”. I wish that I had devoted more of my inner thoughts to Christ and doing a work for him. Marriage came in due time, but how much more effective might I have been for Christ had I not worried about meeting my future spouse.
Instead of looking at the other side of the fence, ask God to show you the work he has for you to do now, and then do it. You don’t have to wait until you’re married, or have a better job, or a bigger house to serve Christ. God needs men and women in all situations to do a work for him. Be faithful where you are in the here and now.