When Life Seems Broken

Gwen Smith Blog, Confession, Devotions, Encouragement, Faith, fasting, Fear, Healing, Prayer, Sorrow, Trials 19 Comments

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. (Nehemiah 1:3, NIV)

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of a land far from his home. (Which means he held a trusted position that allowed him personal access to the king.) When some old friends came to town he found out that his people, the Jews, were in a terrible situation. Deeply burdened by the news, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. He took the devastation of his people to heart and responded on a soul level.

The Bible shows us that Nehemiah prayed. He was pressed but not crushed. He told the Lord that he was sorry for the way he and his people had rejected God and for the ways they had disobeyed His commands. He remembered the instructions of God to His people and reminded Him of His promises. And he asked God to hear his prayer, give him favor and lead his responses.

I read this and see a vibrant example of the way I should respond when difficult situations come my way. When my loved ones are hurting. When my homeland is unsafe and vulnerable to attack. Here are a few basic faith principles we can apply that Nehemiah modeled in his prayer and in the conversations that followed.

#1. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS. Nehemiah wept and mourned in response to the situation. You don’t need to pretend that you’re “fine” when life hurts. Instead, You can do what Nehemiah did: cry. Be sad. Mourn. Grieve.

Because life is hard … and just because we’re Christians does not mean we get easy passes. Thankfully, God knows sorrow well and is the generous source of comfort we need.

#2. PRAY. Nehemiah’s powerful prayer included the following. I’ve bullet pointed them to be a useful guide:

– Begin with confession (on behalf of me and my people).

– Remember and remind God of His Word

– Petition on behalf of others (Pray for your people. Stand in the gap. Intercede.)

– Ask for success (Yes. You read this right. It’s okay to ask God to give you favor. Nehemiah did!)

– Ask for mercy (That the punishment we and our people deserve would be withheld.)

While following this template of Nehemiah’s prayer doesn’t guarantee any of us that God will answer our prayers as we expect Him to, it does give us a step by step path to follow that will focus our hearts God’s intervention.

Then, after Nehemiah prayed, the Lord allowed the king to see that something was wrong. And the Lord allowed Nehemiah to experience the favor he asked for. BUT he has to face his fears in order to step into the provision God had for him. And this shows us another great takeaway…

#3. DON’T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK. Nehemiah was heavy with sorrow and the king noticed. In chapter 2 the king asked Nehemiah what had made his him sad. “So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2)

Insightful king, right?

The next words Nehemiah writes are, “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 fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemiah 2:2-3)

Amazingly, the king cared! He asked what he could do to help and then provided Nehemiah with everything he needed to go back to Jerusalem and help his people rebuild the ruins.

Nehemiah could’ve shrugged off the king’s question. He could’ve said, Nothing is wrong, my lord! I’m fine. All is well. But he didn’t. Even though he was afraid he spoke truth. He didn’t let fear hold him back. And as a result, he was equipped with what he needed and was mobilized toward healing.

Are there complications that have your heart grieving and sifting through ashes?

Perhaps you are trying to keep a stiff upper lip and carry those broken burdens quietly?

Know today that God is all about rebuilding broken hearts and hopes. The King cares. He specializes in transforming smoky ash heaps into beautiful displays of His grace. He moves you toward that beauty and healing as you move toward Him in distress as Nehemiah did.

Dear Lord,
You are compassionate, gracious, faithful, and powerful. Please forgive me and my loved ones for the ways we have disobeyed You. Please bring redemption and healing to the following _____________. Pour out Your favor and mercy on us today, and help me to follow Your leading.
In Jesus’ name, amen



Click to TWEET THIS: “God specializes in transforming smoky ash heaps into beautiful displays of His grace.” @GwenSmithMusic

Read Nehemiah 1, then write out your own version of Nehemiah’s prayer in the comments section of my blog.

Thanks for doing life with me!


PS. Have you checked out the LIMITED EDITION accessories that were created to coordinate with the themes of the I WANT IT ALL book? Custom artisan bracelets and a necklace are available now and can be purchased here. (While Supplies Last!)

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Comments 19

  1. Not sure what God has in store for me – It has been coming to my mind/heart how faithful God has been to me in times of trouble. I’m not sure if I am being prepared for a “big something” (again!) or being reminded that I need to trust in all things; or maybe both!

    Psalm 116:1-2 “I love the Lord for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me I will call all on him as long as I live.”

  2. O Lord,God of heaven the great & awesome God who keeps covenant of unfailing love to those who love & obey his commands. I have confessed that I have sinned against you. O Lord ,please hear my prayers & please grant me success today.

  3. Dear Gwen and Readers: I will save this post and read it often because it is so good!
    While I feel I can go before God and be “real” about all areas of my life, I feel if we are honest about our hurts to many (yes, Christians included), many will shy away from us. After my husband’s stroke, no one helps me with his care and I am constantly wore out – I cry out to the Lord often and I am amazed at how He provides glimpses of hope and joy even though I feel I have no friends anymore because of our situation.
    People will fail us; but, God never fails us!

  4. #iwantitall #Nehemiah1

    Dear Lord My God,

    I praise you for who you are and thank you for every promise made possible through matchless love for your people. God I mess up daily, but you love me still and I am most thankful that you know my heart. You know every detail of my life better than I. It is a privilege oh Lord to come before you with genuine concerns for those who are close to me and for many others. You made this possible Lord and I cry out to you to heal this land through those who call you Lord. Help us to see you at work and trust in your providence oh Lord. It is through awareness of who we are in light of who You are Lord that pierces the heart and allows the work and promise of the Great Comforter to indwell, lead, teach, and show us the way. The way of life in which I am so very grateful. My prayer oh Lord is for an awakening of rebellious hearts, and clearing of cloudy perspectives of who You are to be healed. Watch over my children you have entrusted to me and deliver truths to their door in the trusted supernatural way in which you work. This is my prayer Lord in your precious name Jesus. I am grateful for so much. Thank you Lord!

  5. Good morning,Gwen
    Weeping as I read this blog today. It touches life on so many levels. Getting ready to pack the car to take my first born off to college! I know you understand my heart, as your son and mine are the same age. Our children are such a blessing, a beautiful gift from God! Trusting God for this new season of life for my son and our family. Thank you for all you share! It has been a lifeline of encouragement to my heart over the past year. Praying for you, your family and ministry.

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  6. Please pray for my daughter-in-law who is waging a battle against a rare cancer. The doctors do not think they can do anything else. But I am keeping the faith for her and my son. Through God all things are possible. We have in Heaven the ultimate physician and I pray the Lord would lay His hands on her and give her a time of healing.

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  7. Father God, I come to you with a heavy heart and ask for your forgiveness for myself and my family. We are weak people in a fallen world Lord and we need you to strengthen, uphold, lead, and protect us. Thank you Father for the promises in Your Holy Word that we can grab ahold of and lean on each and every day. Father, we have sinned against you and one another and I ask You In Your love, mercy, and grace to show us favor in the days ahead as I seek you and abide with you to know you more and to learn day by day how to be the woman, wife, daughter, mother, and friend you have created me to be. I love you Lord and thank you for your forgivenss and favor for myself and my family In Jesus Name, Amen.

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  8. Dear Lord,
    You know all of the difficult situations that are happening in my life today. Help me to keep you in the forefront of all my thoughts and emotions. Help me to be obedient to You. Give me the strength to reach out to others who may be struggling as I am for we, as believers, are stronger when we come together to pray and lift each other up! I pray that you will guide me in Your ways. Help me to meditate on the fact that GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME! Your Father loves me unconditionally. Praise God for the love that gives me the courage to try to imitate You, my Savior, in everything that I say and do.

    In Jesus Name, I pray

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  9. Sweet Jesus, In you and only you do we know pure truth and honesty. You fill our hearts in the morning with hope for a new day. You guide and guard our hearts and thoughts because you said you would and we believe it to be so with every fiber of our being. We believe you will keep us away from all harm and evil, all illness and disease. Always loving us and keeping us in the palm of your hand, covering us with your grace, goodness and mercy. Nothing is impossible with you! Thank you Sweet Jesus for your ultimate sacrifice, your ultimate love, believing we are worthy of such sacrifice. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, thank you for giving us hope and purpose. We love you more than life itself. We thank you for the roof over our head, for your provisions in our life. We celebrate with you for every soul you touch with your goodness and kindness. We thank you for the afflictions in our life that draws us ever closer to you. You are our sun, the light of our life and without you we are nothing. Thank you for believing in us, for never giving up on us. Thank you for wrapping your loving arms around all of us. In your sweet precious name we pray. Thank you, Amen to your YES.

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  10. Oh God, my heart is heavy with the burdens of life situations. You who are the King, know everything that is going on with me right now. Forgive me of my failures and please show me favor today with giving me the needs I have. I am believing in a miracle from You this week God.

    In Jesus’ Name I make these requests. Amen

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  11. God my Father, Father to my children and grandchildren, we love you but have fallen by the wayside. I’m asking for your mercy and grace that you have promised us as we pray this prayer.

    Continue to show us Your way, nudge us in your holy direction that we might find favor with you. Please give us strength to meet our daily demands, to accept Your holy will so that we might find peace in this life and in our everlasting life…

    In Jesus Holy Name I pray!

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