Recall the last time you were faced with devastating news or found yourself filled with angst, worry, or fear. How did you respond?
Anger and bitterness are common reactions to bad news. We may feel tempted to isolate ourselves from others. Grief is complex, and responses vary greatly. However, according to the Bible, Nehemiah’s response is the best response.
We read about Nehemiah’s general response in Nehemiah 1:4. Then in Nehemiah 1:5-11, we discover the specific way that Nehemiah prayed in response to this devastating news. He recognized God’s faithfulness, requested God’s ear, confessed sin, and committed his people to the Lord’s care.
Nehemiah began his prayer with a recognition of the faithfulness of God. He indicated his confidence that God had been and would continue to be faithful. He then requested God’s ear. Though Nehemiah was confident that God heard him, he opened and closed his prayer of dependence by begging God to listen to his request.
Why did Nehemiah pray this way? Likely, he was further demonstrating his deep conviction that God and God alone is able to work in such a way that would bring about restoration.
Nehemiah’s prayer also demonstrates his belief that sin has serious consequences. He confessed his own sin and the sin of his family, recognizing that God was fully aware of their sin, but also that this sin was not to be taken lightly and needed to be dealt with.
Finally, he committed his family—the Jewish people—into the hands of this faithful and just God. He trusted God to be faithful to His word and His people. Though Nehemiah didn’t know what the outcome would be,
he was confident in his God, that He would remain faithful no matter what.
Nehemiah’s response demonstrated a deep love, trust, and confidence in God that is exemplary for each of us. When we face moments of devastation, we can—with deep dependence—turn to God and find comfort.
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