Lamenting What Is Lost

Offering our tears to God requires faith that He is able and willing.

Nehemiah 1:3-11

Is it possible for grieving to be an act of worship? Consider today’s passage about Nehemiah, an Israelite who served as cupbearer to the king of Babylon. Nehemiah sat down and wept for days when he learned Jerusalem’s walls had been destroyed, leaving his people defenseless. Yet his tears weren’t just a simple outpouring of strong emotion. Through weeping, fasting, and prayer, Nehemiah allowed his distress to lead him into deeper communion with God.

Shedding tears over what was lost—giving full expression to his pain—was an essential component of Nehemiah’s prayerful turning toward God. His bold display of sorrow was an affirmation of his belief that God alone was capable of restoring Jerusalem and her people to their former glory. As he prayed, Nehemiah reminded God of His promise to gather the exiles and dwell permanently among His people (vv. 8-9).

As Christians, we can sometimes interpret another person’s outward display of grief as a lack of faith. Why are they crying, we may wonder, if they truly trust God? But Nehemiah’s example shows us that taking time to lament what we have lost can be an act of worship. When we are in pain, God invites us to cling to His promises and offer our tears to Him as devotion—even if they are all we have to give.