Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 6, 2017
The king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire? Nehemiah 2:2-3
I sit here stunned, deeply saddened by the senseless violence of an evil man who massacred my fellow human beings, my fellow Americans and God’s precious children. Some who died knew the Lord, others did not, but all met their Maker on the most unsuspecting day. The merriment of music with friends, turned into a murderous, chaotic concert with friends giving their life for friends. My heart quivers and quails at the thought of the defenseless and innocent being riddled by bullets. My anger, grief and loss is distant compared to the family and friends left behind. I weep. I pray. I hug my wife, children and grandchildren. But what else is God calling me to do?
Nehemiah came face to face with the intense suffering of family and friends in his homeland. One of his brothers had just informed him of the chaotic and defenseless conditions of the Jewish exiles who had returned to Jerusalem, only to find it in ruins. No security. No leadership. No hope. Only the prospects of fear and famine. Nehemiah lived in ease, peace and affluence, but his countryman battled affliction, poverty and sorrow. The innocence’s exposure to evil and injustice moved Nehemiah to move back to his people and provide a hopeful, practical plan.
“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight” (Psalm 72:12-14).
How can we help? God may call us to serve those far away who were struck down by senseless violence–certainly family and friends. Mourning, comfort, counseling and Christ’s gospel are much needed now and for years to come. And for all of us we can be more circumspect on how to help our community prevent sinful atrocities or to help bring healing to those suffering from sinful actions–their own or another’s. Someone’s sadness is our opportunity to offer gladness.
Maybe your role becomes like the King who resourced Nehemiah to carry out his cause for justice and reinventing his community. Your generous investment of time, expertise and money can make a world of difference in your world. Invest in mentoring to keep boys and girls from becoming another statistic of broken men and women. Initiate a movement of prayer in your church, ask the Holy Spirit to breath on believers with a fresh fire of faith and repentance. Work on the revitalization of your town with renewal and job creation like our friends John and Ash. The cross was sad, senseless violence that became God’s plan of salvation–and it still is today!
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:13-15).
PrayerHeavenly Father in my sadness I need the grace of Your gladness, in Jesus name I pray, amen.
ApplicationHow can I give, serve and pray for those who are victims of violence?
Related ReadingPsalm 7:12-16, 10:8-11; Isaiah 61:1; Romans 12:19; 2 Corinthians 1:1-3
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