In the opening of Nehemiah hears the sad news of what state Jerusalem is in and in response he weeps and mourns for days. I think if we saw this godly sort of grief happening we might think something was wrong–not with the situation of Jerusalem being in ruin–but rather with Nehemiah. Days of mourning? We might try to tell him to think about something else. Do something to get if of your mind. Don’t be so glum.
But this is not a mourning that bears no fruit. He is deeply affected by the news he has heard and it leads him to action. His sorrow leads him to put everything on the line, going to the king and asking leave to return to Jerusalem. Once there it leads him to repent with his countrymen. It leads him to give generously from his wealth to sustain the building projects. And this is not just a simple construction site. It is full of danger. Nehemiah is moved at this news and does not just write a check and send it off, while staying in safety. He goes to the city and together with the people stands guard against his enemies who intend to attack. To rebuild the walls is not an easy endeavor and it is a dangerous one for all who are involved. God used Nehemiah’s mourning to him to action and sacrifice in order to accomplish God’s will.