Nehemiah 4:9-Emptying Your “Anger Bag”
If you asked me today what my most important ministry tool was other than a Bible I would immediately reply, “Columbia boots (I’m on my second pair), a Yeti water bottle, and a SOG backpack.”
Thats my answer because I use each of those items daily, however if you made me choose just one I’d tell you my backpack.
Using backpacks is a very common thing here, especially since you do lots of walking (also why the Columbia boots are important). Traveling from place to place means your backpack doesn’t just need to look good, but hold up to daily wear and tear because it will be overloaded often.
I have fallen in love with my current backpack which is approaching two years of daily use (got it in Christmas 2018) and has just now started to develop a rip in it.
While my backpack can take a very heavy load, I’ve had to start putting less in it because that load can wear my body down pretty quickly. More than once I have found myself trudging up the road towards home exhausted because of weight on my back.
In the same way we can often carry around harmful emotions such as anger, self-pity, bitterness, anxiety, or discouragement and allow them to weigh us down spiritually. Often when we experience these feelings our first response is to get rid of them as quickly as possible so nobody can see them. I use the illustration of stuffing them into your emotional backpack (what I call an “anger bag”) so that the emotions can be hidden.
The problem with this response is your body isn’t created to take that kind of emotional load. Just like I physically cannot carry a heavy load in my bag without resting, I emotionally and spiritually cannot keep those feelings hidden. Eventually they will come out, and at the worst possible time.
Nehemiah in the first part on 4:9 states that when a threat of physical attack came from Sanballat and Tobiah, he responded with prayer. This isn’t his only response as we see in the rest of 4:9, but its interesting to see the first thing Nehemiah does is pray.
I believe with this prayer he is pouring out his frustration to God, and asking for protection, as well as help. In a way this is Nehemiah’s way of confessing to God he cannot carry the burden alone.
He is emptying his anger bag.
There was probably a part of Nehemiah that felt he could lead the rebuilding project, protect the people from Sanballat and Tobiah’s attack, and motivate the people at the same time. Yet he knew this was too heavy of a load for him to carry alone. And we weren’t created to carry our own burdens.
As Believers the stress and frustrations of life don’t call us to hide our weakness so nobody can see them, instead it calls us to confess our own weakness. To agree with God that we aren’t meant to live with a backpack thats filled to the brim with toxic emotions. To empty our hearts and minds of the daily struggles we experience, and lay them at the feet of our Heavenly Father.