Emotions are far from my favorite thing but many of my friends are feelers, which always leads us to some interesting conversations. They see the world and navigate through life so differently than me. I’m constantly in awe of these friends of mine, they encourage me to grow and learn and embrace the emotions that I am so hesitant of.
Whether you’re the most emotional person on the planet or you have the emotional range of a rock, there’s probably something that grieves you.
What pains you to your core?
What makes you weep or sets you into a rage?
What keeps you up at night?
What do you pray for constantly? Who do you intercede for continually?
Do you have an answer? If so, you may have just identified your mission or purpose.
Seriously, it’s that simple.
“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4 (ESV)
Nehemiah heard about the state of Jerusalem and he reacted immediately and strongly. This news shook him to his core and his powerful emotion drove him to swift action. He didn’t sit in his emotion and have a pity party, but he didn’t stuff his emotions either. Instead, Nehemiah understood that his grief was an important sign and something that needed to be acted upon. Emotion was not something to be ignored.
The rebuilding of the temple was something Nehemiah was called to do, it was a charge given to him by God, but he didn’t know it here in verse 4. It took him some time to identify this step. All he knew at this point was his love for God, passion for people, and grief over the state of the city.
Which leads me back to my original point: what grieves you?
For me, I hate injustice, which is a pretty broad topic. You can find injustices just about anywhere you care to look. This is everything from food scarcity to poor education to recidivism to human trafficking and more. It’s in the business, educational, and political spheres and happens all over the globe.
For years, I wanted to be a judge or a lawyer so I could begin righting the wrongs of injustice. While I still dream of going to law school, over the years, God’s been showing me that there are other ways I can help eliminate injustice. But everything starts with prayer.
I’m not released to begin doing the big things I feel like he’s called me to do, so instead, I exercise my ability to pray, just like Nehemiah did. He took that thing that grieved him and presented it to God. He prayed day and night, continually lifting up the nation of Israel to God. He interceded for them for days!
When was the last time that you prayed and fasted for something for days on end? Honestly, it’s been a while since I did that, but I’m going to change that, starting today.
Verses 5-11 are the recorded prayer that Nehemiah prayed. I’m reading through it and praying my own version of it, interceding for those people that I feel for and situations that grieve me. Let’s spend some time with the Lord, asking for wisdom, insight, and courage to act at the appropriate time for the good of others and his glory.
You might not be able to fulfill that thing that God has called you to do now, but you can begin serving that population of people you’re passionate about through prayer. If we try to build a ministry, a platform, a family, a community, or a wall on any foundation other than prayer, it’s doomed to fail. Let’s follow Nehemiah’s lead today and intercede for others, trusting that’s the best thing we can do to right the wrongs that grieve us!
What grieves you?
Share in the comments below, and let’s spend time praying for those things that grieve each other today!
To go Deeper: Read Good Grief!, Natural Alert System: Sadness