And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven–Nehemiah 1:4
“Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”–John 11:34-36
Nehemiah wept. Jesus wept.
Nehemiah means “Jehovah Comforts”. Jesus (Yeshua) means “The Lord is Salvation” or “Saviour”.
It can seem ironic that these men who were noted as being great comforters of others, should suffer such emotional affliction themselves. Yet, what may appear to others as weakness was actually the engine room of their strength.
People weep for different reasons, but all forms of non-chemically related sorrow come from one root. All sadness comes from identifying with a sense of loss. Now the actions you take once you have reached a place of emotionally identifying with a loss can determine whether you are weeping from a place of weakness, or from a place of strength.
These men were not weeping from a point of feeling helpless or weak, or feeling sorry for themselves. On the contrary, these men were weeping from a place of strength, of being able to carry the burdens of others, and feel the loss of those around them. These men weren’t wallowing in self-pity, but were weeping from a mindset of understanding the cause and depth of the pain, followed by a desire to rise, help, and heal others. Now Nehemiah may have initially felt crippling sorrow for his own loss, but at some point his sorrow was channeled towards positive action. Sadness can either be used to bring us into spiraling, grinding weakness, or deeply compassionate strength. Nehemiah and Jesus chose the path that leads to strength.
Nehemiah and Jesus were restorers. By their example, we see that the first step in restoration is being able to identify the loss and have a burden to do something about it.
What happened after these men wept, and took the road of compassionate strength? Nehemiah went forth and saved lives by having men place stones together (Neh. 6:15). Jesus went forth and saved a life and had men roll stones apart (John 11: 41-43). Can you see it? In either case, compassion moved boulders, and faith moved mountains! Compassion and faith work together.
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He didn’t just weep, He was moved with emotion TWICE! Look at the second time: So Jesus, AGAIN being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.–John 11:38
What else did Jesus do? Look at the following verses:
When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.–Matthew 14:14
Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.–Matthew 20:34
When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”–Luke 7:13
And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”–Matthew 15:32
And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.–Mark 6:34
I wonder what the writers saw that clearly signaled to them that Jesus was “moved with compassion”? What action caused them to know his emotional state? Some people think that Jesus only wept at the resurrection of Lazarus. That isn’t true.
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.–Luke 19:41-42
Sympathizing with our pain, loss, and deficiency is what made Jesus useful to us. Put another way, without the pain of compassion, Jesus would have been useless to us. If that language is too shocking, then I will just say that we would have an advocate who wouldn’t be able to relate to us , and that would nullify His ability to represent us as our advocate.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.–Hebrews 4:15
If we are going to be builders and comforters like Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah (Remember? Jehovah comforts those whom Jehovah enlightens), we must be enlightened by understanding that Nehemiah first wept like Jesus wept. They allowed compassion to well up within them. Sadness will happen. What will you do? I pray that God will enable us to embrace the work of sadness in a positive way, and let God develop compassion in us. Amen?