When Nehemiah heard the wall around his home city had been destroyed, it hurt him to the core. A city without protection was vulnerable to attack, the people there were not safe, and there was probably a good amount of fear and worry in the inhabitants’ hearts. Nehemiah’s response was to sit and cry. Just like Jerusalem, in that moment he was vulnerable, defenseless and overcome with emotions. What stood out was how Nehemiah did not run from emotions and go right to the king and beg to go home. He didn’t ignore the problem his home city was having and pretended nothing was wrong. Instead he sat with his emotions. There is a valuable lesson there.
We often do not feel like there is time to sit and engage with our emotions. Maybe we were taught to not show or allow emotions to rise up in us. Maybe someone hurt us and to not let them see it we built a wall to hide what we feel AND we kept hiding our emotions. Maybe because of the past, you have stuffed your emotions down and do not even know they are there. Maybe you have a hard time feeling right now. Maybe you’re thinking Jeremy toughen up, emotions are for (use whatever derogatory statement you want).
It’s pretty crazy that God would show us that running from our emotions is wrong, instead we need to engage our emotions. God gave us emotions so we could grow with him, become like Jesus, and help others. So sometimes we need to engage and explore our feelings and evaluate how they cause us to think or act. Nehemiah is a good model for us in how to engage emotionally with what is happening around us. First he shows us to stop and feel. Second he shows us how to set aside comfort and distraction and go to God. If we engage like Nehemiah I think we would see a lot more healthiness in us and in those around us.
Read Nehemiah 1:2-4, what is God telling you in this story and what do you think he wants you to do with it? Take a moment and pray and ask God to help you think about how you handle the emotions in your life. I hope you follow Nehemiah’s model and let God work through the emotions he gave you.
Pastor Jeremy Johnson