Sometimes the knife of life drives right to the core of your being. It wrenches around till your bleeding in grief.
Your speechless in shock, numb in movement and it feels like the very essence of life has been sucked out of you. You mourn because there is no other worthy response.
All because you asked some questions. Questions that led to answers that led to a crushing of your heart.
Have you ever sat with someone and as they shared, something deep broke in you. Something of their human experience meshed with your own and empathy flowed.
You are silent, stunned, shocked.
You can’t give any answers as there really is none and if you did, well, this would show just how you weren’t really listening in the first place.
Nehemiah had asked some questions about the overthrown city of Jerusalem and his fellow Jews.
The news cut to the core.
They told me, “The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven. Nehemiah 1:3, 4
Words have a power that can cut to the very core of your hope.
wall is rubble,
gates are cinders’
The people and the city were in a catastrophic mess. Survival was the daily challenge. Glorious Jerusalem was a ground down mess.
As I read this I was reminded of Job’s friends and their response to his calamity. When they heard what had happened to their friend the initial response was to be silent.
They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. Job 2:12, 13
Some times the only thing you can do is sit on the ground, fast, weep, tear your clothes , throw dust and mourn.
Then out of the gut a groan rumbles into a prayer. This is probably all you can do. It is also all that God probably wants you to do.
Nehemiah, whose name means ‘Jehovah Comforts’, went to Jehovah for comfort.
What do you do when the burden lands on your soul? Ignore it, avoid it, shrug it off?
5 Suggestions for When a Burden Lands on Your Soul
- Acknowledge it.
Don’t ignore the pain. It’s there, real and it has a purpose.
- Embrace it to the level your able to.
Some times you need to say ‘I can’t handle this’. That it’s too much. You don’t have to be a martyr for a cause you are not called to carry. Rabbi Nachman of Bretslav said this.
To pull a man out of the mud, a friend must set foot in that mud.
I would also add that you don’t have to drown in that same mud. You can throw a rope.
- Turn the pain into prayer.
It is too much to carry without help from God. In the next few verses Nehemiah pours his heart out.
- Know there is a bigger picture involved.
We can get so involved in the pain of the story that we lose sight of the completeness of God. That there is a huge storyline being played out on a stage as vast as the heavens. That what we are looking at is just part of a brush stroke of a revealing picture. Paul alludes to a cosmic spiritual realm in Ephesians 6:12.
We so want to take action and get things moving, but I wonder what would happen if we just waited. If we just stopped for a moment and stilled ourselves enough to be quiet. Perhaps in this waiting we would begin to hear answers that are beyond the obvious.
In summary, you don’t have drown in the problems of others. You enter into them with the presence of God who knows all and can do far more than you can do alone.
Quotes to Consider
- Stay in your own territory. Do all that you can do, but leave the miracles to God. Annon
- To pull a man out of the mud, a friend must set foot in that mud. Rabbi Nachman of Bretslav
- I will do for one what I wish I could do for everyone Andy Stanley
- Where there is great love, there are always miracles. Willa Cather
- I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. Edward Everett Hale
- When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, able to bend, and, most of all, we need someone who embraces us for our strengths and struggles. Brene Brown
Questions to answer
- Do you fear peoples stories? Why?
- What are some ‘ropes’ you can throw to those who are ‘in mud’?
- Do you minimize the place of prayer and rush to action? Why?