For instance, if I see a problem as a disaster, then my reaction is going to be DESPAIR. If I see a problem as unnecessary, then my reaction is going to be IRRITATION. If I see a problem as unfair, my reaction is going to be ANGER. If I see a problem as deserved, my reaction is going to be GUILT. But if I see a problem as an opportunity for God to work in my life and to show me what he can do, my reaction is going to be FAITH. How you see the problem is going to make the difference in your life.
In the year 586 B.C. the Babylonians wiped out Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, knocked down the buildings as well as the wall around the city. Decade after decade passed and for 140 years the wall was nothing but a pile of rubble. As a result, the people of Israel felt a lot of shame, guilt, embarrassment, discouragement and disappointment.
That’s why God sent them the Prophet Nehemiah whose name means, “The Lord is comfort.” Nehemiah helped Israel refocus their life on God and eventually rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
In order to refocus your life you’ve got to make the right choices in life. Nehemiah made three choices that helped him refocus on God.
Nehemiah 1:4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (NIV)
The first choice Nehemiah made was to express his hurt to God through mourning. Most people in our western culture don’t take time to mourn because we’re in such a hurry. Instead of mourning we try to get through our problems as quickly as possible so we can get back to living life.
But mourning takes time. For instance, in Genesis 50:10 the people mourned for seven days. In Numbers 20:29 they mourned for 30 days. In Genesis 50:3-4 they mourned for 70 days.
Why did people mourn for so long in the Bible? It’s because it takes time to express your hurt to God. One of the reasons why people continue to suffer from the hurt they’ve experienced in life is because they haven’t taken time to mourn.
The Hebrew word for “mourn” isn’t just about something you do on the inside, it’s also an emotion that you show on the outside as well. In biblical times when people mourned they expressed it outwardly by taking off their clothes and putting on a rough material much like a burlap sack. They also would sit in ashes and throw dirt in the air above their head.
Everyone expresses mourning differently. But in our American culture we have a tendency to hide our emotions and don’t want anyone to see or know that we’re sad, grieving, hurting or crying. But, if you want to be free from the hurt in your life you have to express mourning and share your hurt with God and others.
The second choice Nehemiah made was to fast. Fasting isn’t just about refusing to eat, it’s about refocusing on God. It’s not just about changing your diet, it’s about changing your heart.
So, when Nehemiah learned that the walls around Jerusalem were broken down, he chose to mourn and fast. The third choice Nehemiah made was to pray and ask God for help.
If you will read Nehemiah 1:5-11 you’ll find that Nehemiah’s prayer shows us how to ask God for help in difficult situations. In his prayer Nehemiah recognizes who God is and that he can do anything. Then he recognizes he has sinned and needs God’s grace, forgiveness and strength. Then he gets really specific with God and asks God to help him be successful by recalling what God did for him in the past.
As a result of getting refocused on God, Nehemiah and Israel were able to rebuild the wall that had been broken down for so many years.
Is there something broken in your life? Your marriage, your finances, your career, your health, your relationship with God?
In order to rebuild any of those things the first thing you need to get your focus off your problem and refocus on God.
Hebrews 12:2 We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. (GW)