Reflection Guide - Nehemiah 1:4

Key points from the sermon:

  • Nehemiah “sat down” and “mourned for days.”  He created space to feel. He was not ignorant, distracted, or numbed.  He showed compassion and empathy, just as Jesus did when he wept in John 11:35.

  • As Christians, we’re typically familiar with orthodoxy (right theology) and orthopraxy (right action), but we’ve often failed to understand orthopathos (right emotion).  In our culture, we tend to either reject emotions or be ruled by emotions.  Both extremes are unhealthy.

  • Nehemiah demonstrates a healthy response to emotions: he prayed “before the God of heaven.”  In humility, Nehemiah acknowledged God’s power and sovereignty. He brought his brokenness before Almighty God.

Scripture to meditate on this week:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."  -1 Peter 5:6-7.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What stands out to you when you read Neh. 1:4?

  2. When you feel burdened and broken, what is your immediate response?  Do you freeze in fear? Or do you get to work and try to “fix” the problem?  Nehemiah stopped and prayed before the God of heaven. How would our lives change if we responded like that?

  3. Nehemiah didn’t just pray.  He also fasted. Have you ever tried fasting?  If so, what resulted? If not, what prevents you from doing so?

Practice:

Choose at least one meal this week to replace with prayer.  Practice fasting and journal your response. In addition, practice orthopathos (right emotion).  When you encounter brokenness this week, examine yourself to see if you tend to reject the emotion or be ruled by the emotion. Then, try instead to bring the emotion before Almighty God. Talk to your DNA group about how you’re responding to emotion.

Lastly, Pastor Josh mentioned on Sunday that the Psalms help us rightly understand emotions. Read some of the Psalms and specifically look for emotional words. This article from Desiring God will assist you in doing so:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-the-psalms-do