The sealed Golden Gate in Jerusalem, also known as the Gate of Mercy. © Dawn McDonald via Unsplash.com

Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.…“

(Nehemiah 1:3)

Nehemiah was in exile in Babylon, highly respected as the Persian king’s cupbearer. He was the king's most trusted servant. Nehemiah was far away from his hometown and his people and heard the unexpected news about the dreadful situation the Israelites were in, hopeless and at the mercy of the enemy. The walls of Jerusalem were broken. There was no protection and security anymore. The Holy City had fallen. 

Nehemiah had never been to Jerusalem, but it was the Holy City of God - and of his people. Nehemiah and the other Jews in exile wanted Jerusalem and the people there to thrive, because they wanted God´s name to be exalted and glorified throughout all the earth.  The horrible news coming from Jerusalem elicits deep compassion and brokenness that shows the character of Nehemiah. He even wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. Nehemiah was crushed, a broken man. He showed compassion to people he never met, and towards a city he never visited. Yet, his heart was there.

Many years later, Jesus approached Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44) and in seeing the city he wept about the destiny of his people. Jesus wept over the people of the city, because of the hardships that they would face in the future, because of their rejection of him. 

Compassion, empathy, and entering into the sorrow and trials of others are mandated by Scripture. Paul writes to the Galatians: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

We are all called to have the heart of Jesus; and compassion for people in distress, disgrace, and destruction as we look into the situation in Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. May our hearts be full of compassion for all those who are suffering, injured, persecuted, homeless, and those who lost loved ones. Let us pray for the people in the region that they may experience the peace (Shalom) of God, which will bring these wars to an end. May the peace of God, which passes all understanding guard the hearts and minds of our people in the region. 

We trust that this festive season will be a celebration of Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone to our faith. May it also be a special time of fellowship and uniting of God’s children, being part of His family.

We want to invite you to join us in our work through prayer & financial support: Click here to make a donation via Trustbridge.

In Christ

Rev. Dr. Yassir Eric

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