Nehemiah was a Hebrew living in exile as a slave to the king of the Persian Empire when he received news of the welfare of his people. Nehemiah’s heart was burdened by the plight of his people and it compelled him to deny himself food and seek God in prayer. In fact the rest of Nehemiah’s story is the out working of God’s call to lead the rebuilding work back in Jerusalem.
Not every burden is a call from God but every call will be accompanied by a burden. Too often we misinterpret passing burdens as holy crusades that we must pick up and pursue but not every burden is a call from God. God created you for more than filling a vacancy in a company and receiving a pay cheque each week, he created you to fulfill a unique call.
The burden you carry is a key to recognizing your call. Ask yourself the questions: What drives me? Why do I do what I do? I’m not talking about unhealthy and sinful motivations for acting in inappropriate ways but I’m asking you, what is your holy discontent?
Popeye the Sailor Man was a popular cartoon character many years ago. Popeye had an on again, off again love relationship with Olive Oil and any time Olive’s well-being was threatened or someone was threatening Popeye in some way, he would down a can of spinach and his forearm muscles would grow to twice their size and he would proclaim this phrase before he cleaned up all the baddies, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.” (As you can see, Popeye had an incredible command of the English language)
A burden from God is a holy discontent that declares “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.” Someone once said, “Deep change only comes out of deep pain.” Sometimes it isn’t until we experience a “That’s all I can stands” moment that we rise up and act upon our holy discontent.
When God calls you, a holy discontent will consume your heart and compel you to take action but before you run out and act on the burden, pray into the burden like Nehemiah did. Prayer purifies the burden and releases the power of the Spirit to enable the burden to hit its target. Pay attention to the signals the Spirit of God is sending your way. A call is always accompanied by the right burden.