Quiet Time Coaching Episode 488 | New Thing Series — Part 43 | “Nehemiah’s Lament – Part 1” | Malcolm Cox

A new thing! I’m Malcolm Cox. Welcome to your daily devotional podcast anchored in Isaiah 43:19: ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’

We are currently looking at God doing a new thing in the life of Nehemiah. Today we explore Nehemiah’s lament.

“…while I was in Susa the capital, one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They replied, “The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:1-4 NRSV)

What Nehemiah is doing is more than praying — he is lamenting. The topic of lament is not something we talk about a great deal in our churches. However, it is a significant theme throughout Scripture. By some calculations the book of Psalms contain around 60 Psalms of lament. There is even an entire book called Lamentations. Nehemiah is known as a man of action – for good reason. However, we will focus here on his lament because without it, his actions mean nothing.

Nehemiah’s Lament

  • Nehemiah is not responsible for the problems in Jerusalem
  • He responds to bad news by taking it directly to God
  • He is highly expressive in his lament
  • He does not feel embarrassed to allow a full expression of his grief before God.

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” (Psalm 137:1 NIV11)

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7 NIV11)

For Reflection
Bad news breaks near Nehemiah’s heart. It’s as if he cannot help himself as he collapses to a seated position, begins to weep and cries out to God. I imagine his fasting is involuntary in some sense. How could he think to eat? How could food be interesting or attractive when the news is so terrible? Not all prayer is like this, of course, but there are times, if things are going to change, if God is going to be able to do a new thing, when we must face up to what is broken — i.e. that which is not as God intended.

Why not take something ‘broken’ to God today? Dare to express yourself to him without holding anything back.

I hope you find your heart, your life, your congregation and your world inspired by God doing a new thing. Until tomorrow, take care, and God bless.

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“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License