Who are some of your favorite people in the Old Testament? I have a long list, but lately I have been reading Nehemiah. We can learn a great deal from him that applies to our daily lives.
This past week, I’ve just been camping out in the first chapter, reading it in several different versions trying to learn everything I can. Nehemiah teaches us how to handle bad news when we receive it. I’m pretty certain all of you have received bad news from time to time that has troubled your heart. I know I have.
Nehemiah learned the walls of Jerusalem were basically rubble and the gates had been burned down. This was his homeland and it broke his heart. His first response was to sit down and have a good cry [vs. 4]. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful the Word of God tells us it is okay to cry over things that break our hearts. We don’t have to immediately jump into action nor do we have to pretend everything is okay or give the religious answer of “Well, God is in control of everything so He must have wanted this to happen.” Beloved, we are allowed to cry. Get it out when necessary. For those of you men reading, that includes you. Nehemiah proved real men do cry.
Secondly, Nehemiah turned to God and cried out to Him in prayer and he fasted. Fasting is a lost practice in the church today; however, it is something God clearly intended for us to do. In Matthew 6:16-17, Jesus said “When you fast…” implying you would, in fact, do it. Nowhere in the Word of God does it say “if you fast.” Fasting is forcing yourself to sacrifice something and turn to the Lord to sustain you. The time you would be eating is focused on prayer and listening to the Lord.
The next thing Nehemiah does is powerful. In verse 5-11 he reminds God of His promises to Israel and then he confesses his sin and the sins of his people. He basically tells God “This is who we are what we’ve done, but because of whom You are and what You’ve promised, help us.” We have a whole book full of promises we can bring to God’s attention in our prayers, but first, we have to know what those promises are. We didn’t read that Nehemiah ran to the Torah and read it to God. He knew the Torah. It had become a part of him and he was able to recall the promises recorded in it because he spent time pouring over it. How well do you know the promises of God in the Bible? Do you spend time pouring over it so when trouble comes, and it will come, you can pull from a wellspring of truth buried deep inside of you [John 16:33]?
God showed us all of that from 11 short verses of the Bible. It was just one chapter out of 13 in the book of Nehemiah and there are 66 books in the Bible. The Word of God is a storehouse of treasure just waiting to teach us how to handle whatever comes our way today. What have you read lately in the Word? What truth has He passed on to you through your time spent with Him?