I want to begin by telling you that you have NO idea of what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace a burden God has put on your heart.

In Nehemiah chapter 1, Nehemiah learns of the devastation of Jerusalem. Those who were left were in bad shape, conditions were appalling, and the wall of Jerusalem was rubble. In verse 4 we read the words of Nehemiah: “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.”

So I ask you—what breaks your heart?

If you’re anything like me, you may struggle with finding an answer so quickly. Sure, there are many things that make us sad, maybe even bring a tear to our eyes. But really, when was the last time we actually wept, maybe even mourned, or felt physically burdened for something or someone specific? I mean seriously, think about it. When was the last time we fasted and prayed about someone whose life was in bad shape? Who’s living conditions are appalling, living in ruins and would spend eternity in hell if their life was to end?

It took no time for Nehemiah to be brought to a place of being proactive upon learning the condition of the people of Israel. It was evident his heart was hurting and broken for them. It was very clear the burden that God had put on the heart of Nehemiah. He quickly realized his devotion to God was measured in terms of his devotion to the burden he felt.

I take after my dad when it comes to being “emotional”. It’s kind of a joke in our family actually. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a good “tear-jerker” movie such as “8 Seconds”, but I’ll allow you to experience that one for yourself! However, when this happens, it doesn’t take long for my emotions to subside and never return. To forget about it and move on pretty quickly.

I believe this is a pattern of lifestyle in our culture today. A quick knee-jerk reaction that brings great emotion, but no change. No action from our reaction. But I strongly believe that people are looking for someone who will do something different. To actually make a difference. For someone to actually care about them in their distress.

Nehemiah was just a cupbearer to the King. No one special, pretty normal like us. But he had an intense burden. He knew that he could not only feel compassion but that it was something he needed to act upon. It wasn’t long before he was inspecting the walls of Jerusalem and began rebuilding. His burden had become a reality and he was making a difference. He avoided the blame game and began caring for the people. He knew that those who blame things don’t change things! He was determined to take risks and even remind God of His promises to the people of Israel. He knew that if He wanted to get God’s attention, that he needed to pay attention to those around him.

Take a moment today to actually stop, be still, and listen. Try it for even just five minutes. Listen for the still, small voice of God. There is so much noise in our lives - we have to be intentional in finding moments of silence for God to speak. Instead of feeling like you can’t just stand there and go do something, try just standing there and doing nothing. In hearing Him speak, we can learn what breaks the heart of God. In doing so, maybe that will help us discover what breaks our heart?

I want to end by telling you that you have an idea of what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace a burden God has put on your heart. It will literally change the course of one’s life for eternity. Or maybe your family. Or an entire city. Maybe even the state of Kansas, or at least 10% of it. Let’s not miss it.

Micah Sanderson