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So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned [for many] days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4 NKJV

The people of Israel and Judah would soon be returning home after a long exile. But what would they come home to? Ezra saw the disrepair of Jerusalem, but another man also learned of Jerusalem’s condition. Nehemiah worked for King Artaxerxes, who oversaw the exiled.

The verse above describes Nehemiah’s response. He couldn’t keep the grief from etching his features when he visited the king. Artaxerxes saw the grief and asked Nehemiah what he wanted.

This response answered a prayer. Nehemiah told the king everything he knew and about his interest in seeking the restoration of Jerusalem’s city walls. He asked for help—and the king gave him everything he needed.

Sometimes God will ask you to endure a time of sadness. This can lead to healing, but it can also lead to a resolve to do something about the thing that caused the grief.

It is natural to feel loss over a friend or family member, a job, or a health issue. Grief is a companion in each instance. It means something to you because it seems unfair, but when you work through the pain, you may find yourself more compassionate toward those who face similar grief.

Prayer: God, help me accept grief as a way for You to teach me, soften my heart, and lead me to a place where I can help others.

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