“Sometimes God gives us a fresh burden to deal with something that has become altogether familiar to us.”
Have you ever reached a point where an old problem you’ve lived with becomes unacceptable? Maybe it’s addiction, a dysfunctional relationship, or financial instability. One day you’re at a point where you know it needs to stop. God gives you the conviction and courage to say, “No more!”
Sometimes we have lived with this problem for so long that we almost don’t know life without it. But there comes a time, a day, a place when you wake up and know that you need to do something about it.
Nehemiah had been living with a 141-year-old problem. He had grown up with it. But there came a day when he woke up with a fresh view of the situation. In 586 BC, Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians. The Temple, the center of life and worship for God’s people, had been torn down, the city burned, and the houses taken apart brick by brick. People of Israel had turned their backs on God, and Babylon invaded.
When we meet Nehemiah, he was a cupbearer to the king of Persia, a personal assistant to the most powerful man in the known world. The destruction of Jerusalem was nothing new. Nehemiah had lived with this knowledge for his entire life. But sometimes God gives us a fresh burden to deal with something that has become altogether familiar to us.
When Nehemiah’s brother brought him a letter describing the hardships of God’s people, Nehemiah was deeply distressed (Neh. 1:1–3). What could he do? He wasn’t a prophet or a preacher. He was 800 miles from Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s next step? “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (v. 4). He came before God with praise, confession, and remembrance: “LORD, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant” (vv. 5–11).
When God awakens your heart with a burden for change, you won’t be able to shake it. But you may have no idea what to do about it. At that moment, we can follow Nehemiah’s example: fast and pray. When we seek God, He gives us clarity. When we wait on God, our burden becomes vision, and God will use that vision to produce change.