So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4
Nehemiah 1:1-11 & Nehemiah 2:1-3
At its political peak, Babylon invaded Jerusalem, ransacked the city, destroyed King Solomon’s temple, and took the inhabitants captive. After decades of slavery and captivity, the Israelites were granted leave to return to a desolate and derelict Jerusalem. The gates and walls were burnt and weakened from years of neglect; the homes had been razed to the ground and farmlands overtaken by weeds.
The physical condition of the land reflected the emotional and spiritual state of the inhabitants. They were a people ‘in great distress and reproach.’ Years of oppression had decimated their minds, which made rebuilding their lives a difficult venture. This mirrors the conditions of many in our communities today; many lives are broken, bruised, battered by poverty, and by the sheer pressure of living.
Nehemiah remained in Babylon. Things were better for him than for most of his countrymen – he had a job in the presidential villa as the king’s cupbearer. He however never forgot his home and his people but remembered their humiliation. His elevation did not make him forget his people’s situation – a virtue many elevated men don’t have. Nehemiah never thought it below him to take thought of the downtrodden and despised, nor was he ashamed to own his relations to them.
If you look around you today, you will notice that the sense of hopelessness is at an all-time high. Drugs, killings, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, and immorality are on the rise. God seeks Nehemiahs’ who would use their influence, learning, position, and finances to respond to the needs around. People, who despite their exalted position would not allow themselves to be insulated from the realities around them. People, who though live in palaces, are yet mindful of the cottages of the poor. God is looking for a man with a good heart, a man who will be burdened by the brokenness of the people.
When Nehemiah inquired about his people and heard of their brokenness, he was burdened and he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed for many days. No wonder God raised him, favored him, and equipped him to be a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of a nation’s glory and dignity. The man whom God will use to deliver His people must be one that genuinely has a burden for his nation and her people. Would you be a Nehemiah for God? Would you be God’s rebuilder and restorer of broken humanity? All God wants you to do, for now, is to first develop a burden for the broken.
Pray for a heart of compassion to genuinely feel other people’s pain, a generous eye to see and act on the needs around you, and hands of mercy to reach out in your God-given capacity to lift burdens in the lives of the downtrodden in your sphere of influence.