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So a Burden is . . . a GOOD Thing?

November 3, 2017

This week I’ve been reading in The Word about perhaps my favorite Bible character outside of Christ. Nehemiah – humble leader, servant, chosen by God for an incredible task, leader of a revival.

Nehemiah, like a lot of his countrymen, was displaced from his homeland because of the collective unfaithfulness to honor the first commandment – honoring God above all else. In times of plenty they got complacent, then would come a crisis, then repentance, then restoration, then plenty. . . and so the cycle would repeat itself. Quite honestly, it’s not that much different in 400 BC than it is in 2017.

It’s quite easy to get complacent when things are going well and begin to do things our own way or not worship God with all of our hearts on a daily basis, only to fall to our knees when the inevitable crisis comes.

Nehemiah is the model for what to do in those times of crisis. Rather than wallowing in discouragement, getting angry, withdrawing, or playing the blame game, Nehemiah set the example for us to follow. When he was informed that the last representation of home and the favor of Jehovah God was destroyed, i.e. the burning of the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah went to his knees. He prayed before anything else. He prayed before acting. He prayed before speaking. He sought God’s face, first for refuge, then for direction. While he was on his knees, God spoke to him and gave him a vision. From his burden came action.

Did God give Nehemiah a detailed outline of what was to happen in the days and weeks ahead? Not likely. He had to trust God. He had to rely on a daily infilling of God’s Spirit. He had to trust what he had learned from God to this point, and He had to resist every fleshly desire. Not an easy task to be sure, but he did it.

The result? In 52 days, Nehemiah led the rebuilding of a wall 2.5 miles in circumference, nearly 40 feet high, 8 feet thick, and with gates that represented the path of the Godly life as you go around the wall. There’s no other way to describe it but, AWEsome!

God does not intend for the crisis in your life to beat you down, but only to strip away all of the extra things which distract from honoring the first commandment. Burdens are given as blessings, indicators of God’s continued favor in our lives, preparing us to do what He’s called us to do.

Think about it…your greatest times of focus have likely come in crisis. That exam that’s coming tomorrow which determines 25% of your grade. That medical crisis that threatens your life or that of a loved one. That financial mountain you can’t see the way past. Those and many others can be times of great defeat, or they can be burdens which drive us to our knees as a time to re-focus and renew us.

Let me give a personal illustration. I began following the Houston Astros in 1975 as an 8 year old. We had recently moved to Houston and my dad took me to my first game in the Astrodome. I was vaccinated that night with a love for the sport that would become my first love that I would never divorce from. As I write this, I stayed up well past my bedtime last night to watch the Astros win game 7 of the World Series. I’ve waited 43 years for such a moment.

The Astros had their backs against the wall. Their ace pitcher was defeated in game 6, and the team could have crumbled. Instead, they allowed it to become a burden that drove them into action. They struck early, with 2 runs in the first inning and 3 in the second, and the Dodgers could never get anything going.

Ok, so a baseball game that I wasn’t even playing in is not in comparison to the diagnosis you’ve just received, or the financial crisis you are in, or the relationship crossroads you find yourself in, but the principle remains the same.

Nehemiah 1:4, 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 set the standard. When we find ourselves in crisis, we stop, maybe we grieve for a time. Nehemiah’s prayer, which makes up most of chapter 1, demonstrates his understanding that it was sin that brought them into this situation, and it was God that could bring them out. Nehemiah continued to fast and pray until he heard a Word from God. He didn’t act until he heard from God.

When you find yourself in crisis, it’s okay to grieve and mourn, but it’s also essential to continue “fasting and praying” UNTIL God speaks. WHEN God speaks is your directive to act. Honor God with your thoughts, your words and your actions. Seek God’s face in your prayers above all else.

The path may not prove victorious instantly, but God WILL bring you through, and be with you through the fire.

Tony Watson

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