Nehemiah - Holy Discontent

Nehemiah 1:1-4 (ESV) - 1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” 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.

We’ve just started a new series in the book of Nehemiah with the very original title – Rebuilding the Walls. I know I’ll not win any prizes for being original, but, through my studies and reading this wonderful book I’ve come to really admire Nehemiah a great deal. I think at heart he is actually a good Irish man; ready for the rough and tumble of leadership with a strong Irish determination (some might say stubbornness) to do exactly what he believes God has led him to do.

 However, before we get to the rough and tumble of this series I want to look at the first four verses very quickly today. Right here we see Nehemiah show real concern for his people in a land he most probably had never visited. Nehemiah, a Jew, was born in captivity and lived all his life in a foreign land, and yet his thoughts were for a land some distance away.

 As a cup-bearer to the King he would have been a trusted confidant and advisor as well as a human guinea pig, tasting the food brought to the king to ensure there was no poison in it. Despite this risky job Nehemiah lived a life of luxury and comfort, but it didn’t seem to sit well with him; apparently his thoughts were for his fellow Jews in a forgotten province of Persia.

 We read that Nehemiah was experiencing a Holy Discontent. The report that came back about Jerusalem disturbed him greatly, so much so he fell to the ground, wept and mourned for many days. His people, hundreds of miles away were destitute and vulnerable because the cities walls were still in ruins a 100 years after they were laid to ruin by Babylon. The situation in a land he’d never visited wasn’t great at all and deep dissatisfaction rose up within him – a Holy Discontent.

 Yet this moment of grief would be the catalyst God would use to bring about the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls. Nehemiah’s brokenness would bring restoration to Jerusalem, not just with the walls, but spiritually as well.

 The question I can’t help but asking myself, when I read these opening verses, is do I have a Holy Discontent? I look around and see the walls of people’s lives lying in ruins; broken by this world as sin runs rampant in their lives - broken marriages, broken homes, addictions to alcohol, drugs and pornography, abortion, etc. There is no end to roll that sin plays in destroying humanity and I can see it everywhere.

 We need a Holy Discontent; perhaps like Nehemiah this will bring the urgency we need to actually reach this world. I’ve been asking God to break my heart for the lost and slowly but surely he is doing it. I’m not sure we’ll be able to reach our worlds until we have a Holy Discontent rise up in each of us. Please pray with me and ask God to give us all a Holy Discontent!

 God bless,

 Gavin