They said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4
Most of us spend our lives trying to project an image of beauty and competence. Certainly, we want others to think highly of us, but one of the things I respect most are people who exhibit ruthless honesty about themselves and their situations. They are rare. I don't know if I am one of them. Nehemiah was however.
Nehemiah had a great job. He was working closely with the king and he lived a life of luxury. His heart, though, beat in unison with God’s heart. He cared about the things God cares about and when he heard that the people in Jerusalem were suffering his heart broke. He didn’t minimize the problem and he didn’t fly into a panic of mindless activity. Instead, he let the brutal truth sink in, and he responded appropriately: He sat down and wept.
Nehemiah had a courageous conversation with the messenger and then he had a courageous conversation with God. Only courageous people are known for their honesty. It’s a lot easier to look the other way when we see needs in our lives or in the lives of people around us. We can give the excuse that we’ve tried as hard as we can or that we don’t have time to help a person in need. But excuses don’t cut it. Like Nehemiah, we need to let the God's truth sink into our hearts so we can respond with genuine compassion. The Lord sacrificed His perfect Son that we might live and bring Him glory. How shall I live my life in light of this?