Summary: Discover how God can change sadness into singing when you face trials.
Have you ever been sad to the point that it showed on your face? All of us have faced sadness. All of us have been discouraged. All of us have experienced down times. The important thing is that we find strength to pull us out of those dark moments. God will give strength to change sadness into singing. In the book of Nehemiah we find inspiration for such times. There was a point in Nehemiah’s life when he went from sadness to singing. In Nehemiah 2:2 we find the words of King Artaxerxes. “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” (NKJV) In the latter part of the book of Nehemiah the tone has changed. The Israelite people are experiencing revival. They are singing. Nehemiah set the pace for such a change. How do you get out of those sad times? That is an important question! I want to give you some Biblical guidelines that will help you move from sadness to singing. There are four resources found in the book of Nehemiah. These resources are not exhaustive but they made a difference in Nehemiah’s life and they will make a difference for you.
I. The first resource that will change sadness to singing is prayer. In Nehemiah 1 we find the first of twelve prayers of Nehemiah. The prayer in chapter 1 is the longest of the prayers. This is the most intense of Nehemiah’s prayers. As he prayed he fasted, cried, and mourned. His heart is broken. The prayer in chapter 1 seemed to prime Nehemiah’s pump. The other prayers are heart felt but not as intense. What do we learn from Nehemiah about prayer, in this book? What does this teach us that will aid us in our down times?
A. It teaches us to pray in all things. Nehemiah turned to God in prayer in all things.
Nehemiah prayed when he had a burden. (1:4-10).
Nehemiah prayed for God’s direction. (1:11)
Nehemiah prayed when he was sad (2:4).
Nehemiah prayed when he was attacked (4:4, 9)
Nehemiah prayed for wisdom and to be a man of integrity (5:19).
Nehemiah prayed when criticized (6:9).
Nehemiah prayed in order to bless God’s name (9:5ff).
Nehemiah prayed to confess sin and to seek God’s blessings. (13:14, 22,29, 31)
Joke: I read about a little boy who teaches us the importance of praying about everything. This fifth grade boy heard a sermon about persistence in prayer. As his dad passed his door, he heard the boy praying over and over again, "Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo." The next day, the dad asked his son what he was doing. The boy replied that he had given the wrong answer on a test for the capital of Mexico, and he was praying that God would make Tokyo the capital of Mexico.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Robert Garrett)
In Phil. 4:6 we find a verse that underscores this truth. Paul said “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (NKJV)
B. I once had a friend who experienced many burdens before his death. He had open heart surgery, cancer, and a chronic disease. He once told me, “Tim I have always believed in prayer. Since becoming ill I have learned to survive by prayer.” Prayer was his lifeline.
II. A second resource that will change sadness to singing is to move beyond the past. In our text the walls of Jerusalem were in shambles and the city was in disarray. However, God did not leave the people there. No matter where you have been or what you have done, God does not desert you. A couple of weeks ago I shared a verse that reminds us of God’s plans for His people. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT) In order to grasp the future we must sometimes let go of the past.
The past could include: financial problems, broken relationships, disappointment with others, shattered dreams, divorce, poor decisions, and failure. God wants us to let go and move beyond the past. The past can be either positive or negative. Let me illustrate both points from the Bible.
A. The past can be a negative force in our lives.
Illustration: A good example of this truth was Judas. Judas was one of Jesus’ first twelve disciples. Judas was given the same privilege as the other eleven disciples. He heard Jesus’ teachings. He sat at Jesus feet. However, he had the notable distinction of being the one who betrayed Jesus and brought the authorities to arrest Him. Betrayal was not the unforgivable sin. Betrayal was not the end of the world. Judas could not handle his failure. His guilt was more than he could manage. After betraying Jesus he went out and hung himself. The failure of the past can destroy you.