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Nehemiah 1:1–4 ‘When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.’ (v4)

The idea of compassion fatigue was coined by a nurse in 1992 to describe the feeling of burnout that comes to those in the caring profession. The idea has been extended to include how people respond to news of unpleasant things that happen around the world. Charities who seek to alleviate the pain of others will often find that donors can be reluctant to give if the disaster comes on the back of others – hence compassion fatigue by givers.

Nehemiah hears news of Jerusalem. He is one of those who was sent into exile when Babylon overthrew the southern nations of Judah, and now finds himself working in Suza for the Persian leader who had subsequently overthrown the Babylonians. It’s clear that he still feels passionate about the fortunes of his people and so when he hears that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed.

If we have emotional reactions to all the bad news that comes across us, we would be permanently in despair! I’m not sure that when we do feel sad we necessarily need to respond as Nehemiah did. But as we reflect upon the lives of those close to us, of those in our local church and the outside world, we need to ask God to help us to respond where we should: to pray, in some cases to share the news with others and perhaps in a very few cases to act and change our lives in response to what we hear. But it is clear the passive indifference to everything that comes our way is not an option.


A Prayer To Make:
‘Thank You, God, that You don’t call us to bear burdens we cannot bear, and that You have particular news for us to respond to in certain ways. Give us wisdom we pray. Amen.’

An Action To Take:
In the next 24 hours, ask God to make you sensitive to what He is saying to the news that you hear or watch.

Scripture To Consider:
2 Sam. 9:1–13; 2 Kgs 7:3–20; 1 Cor. 16:1–2; 2 Cor. 7:2–27

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.