Jump Start # 2248
Nehemiah 2:2 “So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid.”
Our verse today sets the spirit and the tone for Nehemiah leading the people of God to rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. The city was built, but they had no defense. The walls lay in rubble. Nehemiah was far away in Persia serving the king. News came to him about his beloved city. It broke his heart. This is where our verse is found. Nehemiah’s expression gave it all away. Worry, uncertainty, depression, they will do that. We carry that in our eyes and in our spirit. We sometimes try to cover up our feelings by wearing masks, but masks don’t hide everything. Now the king knew that Nehemiah was sad. He was afraid that would impact what he was doing. Instead, God used this moment for Nehemiah to get permission to lead the people to successfully building the walls.
But our verse reminds us that even the people of God get sad. It’s not a lack of faith, but being in a corner and not sure what to do or if there are any other options. And, especially with the holiday season, as festive as it is and as families gather and there is much joy and happiness, for some this is a very sad time of the year. There are reasons for that:
Some are alone. They live away from family and finances or commitment to jobs keeps them away from family. While it seems that everyone else is enjoying time with family, there will be those who sit alone. For others, there has been a divorce or a death. The pain is especially felt this time of year. There are memories of what once was, but that’s all they now have, memories.
Some could go home but they won’t. There has been some issues and problems in the family. Words were said. Feelings were hurt. Tension, guilt and fear of more trouble makes some just stay away. They feel as if it is not worth getting into yet another argument and fight. Some are not welcome any more. Their choices have offended some in the family and lines were drawn and they were told not to come home, not until changes have been made.
Some cannot afford what they would love to give their family this year. Gifts can be expensive and every parent loves to see the joy on their children’s faces as they open gifts. Our commercialism has gone overboard. We can feel the need to give much more than we can afford. And, then there are those commercials on TV where someone walks out their front door and a brand new car with a bright red bow on top of it awaits the surprised person. Wouldn’t that be great to give someone a brand new car! Not many can do that. Love is not expressed in how many gifts. Children would have the best time with just a few gifts and you spending the day with them playing. That will be remembered much longer than some gift.
Some won’t get the gift that they want. Maybe there was something that a person was really hoping for but all the gifts are given and opened and it was not there. A sadness comes over the person. But in the big picture, it’s just an item, a thing. Work hard, save up your money, and get it yourself later on.
Sadness is hard to hide. The king saw it in Nehemiah’s eyes. Others can see it in our eyes. And, this sadness has a way of shaping our mood. We can be a stick in the mud around others because we are sad. We can make others sad because we are sad. We can become jealous of others because of our situation. We can get angry because others do not notice our sadness and do not move to help us.
For the world, getting through the holidays with sadness means sitting alone in front of the TV with a bottle of alcohol. That’s the world’s solution. Drown your misery and in the process make yourself feel numb and then sick because of the effects of alcohol. Dumb choice. After the effects of alcohol passes, the person is still sad. Nothing changed.
For the child of God, moving past sadness is a spiritual process. Count your blessings and what you have. We forget that when we are sad. All we think about is what we do not have. God has been good to us and we tend to forget that. The world wants to define and tell us what we have to do to be happy. And, if we do not march to the beat of the world, then we are supposed to be sad. That’s a bunch of junk! We don’t listen, follow, nor pay attention to the world. The world is a mess. They’ve got things all backwards and they are missing out on Jesus. So, you don’t have to take a vacation to get away to make yourself happy. You don’t have to spend yourself into massive debt to settle your mind. That’s the way the world thinks. Count your blessings.
Don’t isolate yourself. Remember Elijah hiding in a cave? It didn’t do him much good. Alone with dark thoughts and singing, “doom, despair and agony on me,” isn’t productive, helpful, nor healthy. It was God who got Elijah out of the cave and around people. That’s what you need to do. You may not feel like it, but it’s one of the best things you can do. Invited to a holiday get together? Go. Someone invited you out with them? Go. Get your mind and your thoughts off of you and your plight and be around others, especially children. Enjoy their laughter and their smiles. They have a way of bringing happiness to even a cold heart.
Do something good. Thinking of others is helpful and Biblical. We are to be engaged in good deeds. This time of year brings the generosity out of many people. Volunteer somewhere. Make some cookies and give them to others. Invite others into your home.
Remember, God is still with you. He’s been there all this time. He loves you. He cares for you. He realizes you are sad. Talk to the Lord. Pour your heart and your burdens out to Him.
It’s good for the rest of us to look around and realize that there are those in our neighborhood, or work place or even our congregations that are sad this time of year. Go out of your way to try to brighten their spirits by letting them know that you think about them. Your thoughtfulness can be the very thing that they need to get back on track and to help them through this season.