Sadness of the heart

Posted By: Dieuner Joseph | Thursday, May 16, 2019


In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 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.” 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 ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Nehemiah 2:1-3

Many people are depressed because they are not living with a sense of purpose. Some have turned to drug and alcohol to help them cope with the emptiness they feel because they are existentially misaligned. Others become overly fixated and invested in their vocation because they assume that having a career means they are living a purpose driven life.

There is a sadness of the heart that is experienced by those who are not living a purpose driven life, no matter their level of material success. Many people dread going through their daily routines because of the sadness in their heart. According to a recent survey, more than 70 percent of people say they hate their jobs. These people are frustrated, disappointed, and- in some cases- depressed, waiting for the opportunity to pursue their purpose instead of a paycheck.

In today’s text, King Artaxerxes inquires why Nehemiah has the sadness of the heart. After all, Nehemiah had a much coveted and privileged position as the cupbearer of the king. That meant that Nehemiah was rich and famous. He certainly had much clout in the empire. However, when Hanani told him that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire (Nehemiah 1:3), he became sad and felt compelled to take action.

Upon hearing about the destruction of Jerusalem, Nehemiah knew that being the cupbearer for the king was not his life’s purpose. Therefore, he wept, prayed, and fasted so he can get clarity about how to help his people. That tells me that Nehemiah had a passion that fueled his God-given vision. Nehemiah made sure that his desire to help the people of Jerusalem was in line with God’s purpose for his life.

Just because we are passionate about something does not mean we should make it our life’s purpose. When our giftedness intersects with our passion, and there is clarity in the vision for what is to be achieved, then the purpose is discerned. Nehemiah had a clear vision about what needed to be done to help his fellow Israelites. So, when the king asked him what he wanted to do, he told the king he wanted to go back and rebuild the city of his ancestors (Nehemiah 2:5). Then he asked the king for the resources he needed to build the wall.

God will always give us what we need to fulfill our purpose. The problem is that most of us don’t ask. Instead, we tend to rely on our own resources, and when those resources become limited and scarce, we lose faith and give up on pursuing our purpose. Thus we feel defeated and experience sadness of the heart.

Many marriages are failing, not because the partners don’t love each other, but because they struggle to find a purpose for staying married, and for living. The opioid overdose crisis is mostly the result of sadness of the heart. These addicts are misusing opioid to escape the sense of futility or meaningless they feel because they are not living a purpose driven life. The sadness of the heart has caused many young people in the inner cities of America to join gangs and get involved in criminal activities.

The antidote to this sadness of the heart is a relationship of loving union with God. For the Lord knows the plan, he has for us (Jeremiah 29:11). We are his workmanship created through Christ Jesus for good work, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). If ever we struggle to discover our life’s purpose, we can follow the example of Nehemiah who took the time to pray and fast so he can get a godly vision for his earthly existence.

Prayer- Blessed Lord, help those who are struggling to discover their life’s purpose. Give them a godly vision that allows them to see whom they can impact the world for Christ.

About The Author

Rev. Dieuner Joseph is a dynamic leader, disciple Maker, Writer, Talk Show host, and Spiritual counselor. Reverend Joseph is the founder of the Imani Temple Baptist Church and the Disciple Maker Ministry. He is a skilled Bible teacher who carefully and responsibly exegete the Scriptures to make them relevant to today’s readers. Through his Blog and weekly Christian magazine- The Wednesday Word- he seeks to provide Bible based instructions for dealing with the socio-political issues of today.

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