Our new Wednesday night Bible study started last night at church, and we are doing Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break Member Book (Living Room). I’m excited to get into this study, as it has been a while since I have done a workbook type study and this will be the first I’ve done by Kelly Minter.
The study, of course, is taken from the book Nehemiah, but the back story is found in 2 Chronicles. At the end of that book, the Babylonians capture and destroy Jerusalem, including the temple planned by David and built by Solomon. They kill most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but there is a small remnant that is carted off to Babylon to be servants to the Babylonians for the next 70 years. At that time, Persia will come to power and the Persian king, Cyrus, will allow the remnant to return to Jerusalem to rebuild.
This is the point at which Nehemiah comes into the story. Nehemiah was born and raised in Persia and is now living the high life at the citadel of Susa (a modern-day resort for high government officials) as a cupbearer to the king. He’s got it goooood. However, we are led to believe that Nehemiah has never lost his compassion for the Jewish remnant. His ancestors had lived in Jerusalem and he still feels that connection to them. As he parties in his resort town, his brother comes for a visit. Nehemiah asks him immediately what’s going on with the remnant and about the city of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah hears that his people are in great trouble and disgrace and the sad state of Jerusalem, his heart breaks for them. He weeps, mourns, fasts, and prays to God for favor with the king so that he will be granted permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild it.
Though the book of Nehemiah is thirteen chapters long, it only takes four verses to pierce our hearts with Nehemiah’s actions. Though he lived in comfort and was at that time in a resort town, he asked about his people and was moved to action by his compassion for them. Nehemiah didn’t just feel sorry for them and go on about his business in service to the king. He mourned and fasted for them, and then carried through on his sympathy by asking to go to them to rebuild their homeland. He put actions to his broken heart. He gave up comfort and security in order to fix a problem God put on his heart.
So here’s the thing: We are asked at this point to write down a few groups of people or situations that break our hearts. I’m sure that throughout the study we’ll be asked ways in which we can meet some of the needs of those people, but at this point we’re just naming the groups. I have a few of my own (single mothers, families with sick children, the extreme poor around the world) but I’m curious who you’d name. Is there a group you wish you could have more of a ministry to? For whom do you have a heart of compassion?
PS-That’s an affiliate link. While I love writing this blog just for fun, I’d love to make a little money to do something for these groups of people we’re talking about, you know?