Friday, January 3, 2014

What Challenges are Coming Your Way?

“O’ Lord, I pray, please let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who desire to fear your name; and let your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”  Nehemiah 1:11
                There will be many challenges for us in 2014.  (Maybe you’ve already had your fair share in January.)  Challenges regarding our finances, future plans, issues in the workplace, church, or neighborhood.  The list is endless.  Challenges can cause us to do many things; act in haste, run away, become discouraged, remain on edge, or “clam up” and freeze.
                We could learn a lot from a certain man in the bible about how to face challenges.   A man by the name of Nehemiah we’re told was, “the king’s cupbearer.”  This meant he acted as bodyguard, advisor and food taster for the king.  (I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the role of a parent to me.)
                Yet when Nehemiah was in great distress over the ruin of Jerusalem, his homeland, the bible tells us he, “sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”  Nehemiah 1:4
                Nehemiah did not act hastily, run away, become discouraged, remain on edge or “clam up” and freeze.  He did not become outraged or “check out” with pills or alcohol.
                Make no mistake, he was hurting and he took his pain and overwhelming circumstances to the only one who could fix them; God.
                What’s also interesting about Nehemiah’s response to his situation is what he did first; “sat down and wept.”  Many of us try not to weep when problems arise.  We feel the need to “remain strong” for our spouses, children, and others who may perceive our tears as discouragement, weakness, or “breaking down.”
                In my recent journey to more fully experience the presence of God I often find myself weeping uncontrollably in a church service.  And even my precious six-year old is aware of the negative connotations associated with crying, as she is often the first to ask, “Are you sad mommy?  Don’t cry.”
                Tears can be profoundly cleansing, a detox of the mind, and incredibly healing.  A good cry has the ability to provide great clarity and direction.
                You may not feel the need to let out a good wail in public the next time you’re faced with a challenge, but in the coming year, I challenge you not to hold back when the tears are persisting.
                If one of your resolutions for the new year is to grow closer to Christ, and become a stronger man or woman of God, remember what John 11:35 says, that even “Jesus wept.”

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