#SheReadsTruth : Nehemiah 1:1-11 [A Heavy Heart for the Body of Christ]

My heart is really heavy today.

The plans for today's post were to write about a super exciting announcement for Jitney's Journeys
but that announcement will just have to wait until tomorrow.

Instead, I would like to share with you the things deeply pressing my heart.

I started the She Reads Truth (Nehemiah) devotional this morning and I began thinking of my friends who are currently "living in Jerusalem post-walls."

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. (vs.3)

I can't imagine that devastation but a few of our friends have tasted it lately; in fact, some have gotten a big ole' overwhelming mouthful of it.

The friends JD and I walk with on a daily basis, their lives have been destroyed by fire. By unbearable loss. By hurt. By pain.

Their walls of hope have been consumed by destruction.

I'm gonna get real with you here...
JD and I have yet to face the situations our friends have. In the past two months, God has shown us how great He is and yet how broken this world can be. By that, I mean we've never even been remotely affected by these circumstances. Neither of us have known anyone to suffer through the way our friends have been nor have we experienced these things ourselves. Loss, miscarriage, death, divorce. It is everywhere we look.

To be honest, we had no idea of what to do when we received news of these various devastating, life-altering events.
Except pray and go.

We prayed, wept and mourned for our friends. They are God's children. They are the body of Christ. They are our community. They are our sisters and brothers, and we love them. We ache with them.

We have compassion on them.

And if you have ever studied compassion, you will quickly find that compassion compels you to action.

So we went. We've picked flowers from the garden and wrote letters. We've prayed and asked for understanding. We've read scripture and held tight to God's truths. We've hugged and cried and sat there in silence. If the time called for it, we've participated in meaningless, light-hearted, completely necessary conversation.
It's devastating to walk in community sometimes. It's heart-wrenching. It's ugly.

But that's also the beauty of it.

Through those ugly events, we grow closer to one another. We walk together. We get real with each other. We spill our guts out to one another. We encourage each other in Christ. We remind one another that our hope lies in Christ, that we who have fled for refuge (because our walls and gates of protection have been destroyed by fire) might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us (Hebrews 6:18). We carry one another's burdens and pain so that it doesn't all have to lay heavily on one person to the point of absolute devastation.

We love genuinely and with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor; act zealously and press on fervently in spirit; and we serve the Lord together (Romans 12:9-12). We rejoice in hope, stay patient in tribulation, and constantly abide in prayer (vs. 13). We rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (vs. 15).

It is my prayer that I may never be calloused towards pain. That I may never grow numb towards the hurt my brothers and sisters are suffering through. Because that numbness and callousness could happen. And it does happen. Way too easily and consistently. We too often forget the hurt because it doesn't directly affect us. But it should.

Nehemiah's prayer penetrated deep to my bones as I read it this morning and thought, Okay. I've prayed and cried for my sisters and brothers before but Nehemiah wept and mourned for his city for days. Father, may my prayers for Your people be this sincere. 

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. 
And I said, 
“O Lord God of heaven, 
the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love 
with those who love him and keep his commandments, 
let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, 
to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray 
before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, 
confessing the sins of the people of Israel, 
which we have sinned against you. 
Even I and my father's house have sinned. 
We have acted very corruptly against you and have not 
kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules 
that you commanded your servant Moses. 
Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, 
saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 
but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, 
though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, 
from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, 
to make my name dwell there.’ 
They are your servants and your people, 
whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 
O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, 
and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, 
and give success to your servant today, 
and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Nehemiah 1:4-11

Though we do not share most of our friends' stories with y'all, we would like you to pray with us for one family, in particular, by name. Please pray for the Browns. We don't know this amazing family but our neighbors know them super well. I can't imagine how deeply our neighbors are hurting for them and I certainly can't imagine the pain that the Browns are feeling. You can read their story and donate, if you feel led, to cover medical, food, gas and other costs here. More than anything, please join with us in lifting them up in prayer. Let us not be numb or calloused to the unbearable pain they are feeling.