Lesson 1: Sit Down And Weep

You're reading NEHEMIAH: LESSONS IN REBUILDING, by Eric Elder, featuring 15 inspiring devotionals based on one of the most ambitious rebuilding projects of all time. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading NEHEMIAH: LESSONS IN REBUILDING, by Eric Elder, featuring 15 inspiring devotionals based on one of the most ambitious rebuilding projects of all time. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-4

Where do you start to rebuild something in your life that’s been broken?  Whether you’re trying to rebuild your marriage, family, city, nation, house, career, business, or whatever’s important to you that’s been lost, where can you possibly begin to undertake such an overwhelming project?

The best place to start is where Nehemiah started:  he sat down and wept.  When Nehemiah heard that the people in Jerusalem were in distress and the wall around their city was in ruins, the very first thing he did―before he prayed, before he ran back home, before he lifted even one stone to try to fix it―he sat down and wept.

Here’s how Nehemiah says it, as recorded in the Bible:

“In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 

“They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’ 

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept” (Nehemiah 1:1b-4a). 

When something has fallen apart in your life, the best first step you can take toward rebuilding it is to sit down and weep over what’s been lost, to let the depth of the destruction sink deep into your soul.  Without a full understanding of what’s been lost, it’s very hard to take the steps you need to take to reclaim it.  But once you grasp what’s happened, along with all of its implications, God can use that understanding to help you take the rest of the steps you need to reverse what’s been done.

I remember when I first heard about a couple who was going through adultery.  I was stunned, shocked and numbed by what I’d heard.  I could sit with them and listen, I could pray for them, but I felt helpless about what else I could really do.  It wasn’t until several days later that the full weight of what I had heard finally hit me, along with all of its implications.  When it did, I just sat down and wept, and wept and wept.

There was something about the tears that brought me to the place where I knew I had to do something to intervene in this situation.  I knew that no matter what it took, I needed to step in and do what I could to help repair what had been broken.  While people usually see tears as a sign of weakness, it was―ironically―the tears that gave me the strength to do what I needed to do.

What is it in your life that’s been broken that you desperately wish could be repaired?  What is it that you’ve lost that you wish you could restore, and how badly do you want to see it restored?

The best first step you could possibly take is to sit down and weep.

The rebuilding project I’m working on right now is the restoration of the farmhouse where I grew up.  Our ministry bought it a few years ago to turn it into a personal retreat for people who want to renew their relationship with God.  But the project didn’t start with tearing down walls, or sanding the floors, or even signing the papers at the bank.  It started one day when I visited the farm after it had fallen into disrepair.

I just knelt down on the grass and wept, praying that God would someday restore it, remembering these words from 2 Chronicles:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

It turned out to be the best first step I could take.  And, if you follow Nehemiah’s example, it could be the best first step you can take as well:  to simply sit down and weep.

Prayer: Father, help me to weep over what’s been lost, and give me Your strength to rebuild it again.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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