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Affluent Christian Investor | December 4, 2023

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Purpose Tears

At Eternity's Gate (Painted by Vincent van Gogh) (1890)

At Eternity’s Gate (Painted by Vincent van Gogh) (1890)

Last week, we continued our purpose profile series with a lesson from the purposeful life of Nehemiah. The first point we made last week was

  1. You don’t know your purpose because you don’t ask enough questions – and keep on asking until you get an answer.

This week, we want to move on and focus on the second purpose lesson from Nehemiah’s life. Here goes.

When Nehemiah heard the answers to his questions to the visitors about the conditions in Jerusalem, he was deeply moved:

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”

– (Nehemiah 1:4-5).

I sometimes substitute the word passion for purpose. Passion is a driving force that activates your creativity and will to do something. Tears of joy and sorrow often accompany that passion as you respond and make yourself vulnerable and available to a need that exists in the world. The first time I spoke about purpose, people in the room wept. I have seen thousands more cry over the years. Tears and purpose seem to go together hand in hand.

In 1998, I was watching a television documentary about the suffering of women in Afghanistan and began to cry. I remember praying, “Lord, why am I crying? I don’t know anyone there but if you need someone to go to Afghanistan, I’m willing.” In 2003, out of the blue I received an invitation to go to Afghanistan from people I didn’t even know. I went and it changed my life and the course of my ministry.

So my second point is this: 2) Tears go hand-in-hand with purpose. What makes you cry? I’m not talking only about tears of sorrow when a loved one passes or you receive bad news. Can you sit and listen to some kind of music and cry?  Do you cry during a sad movie? Cry with joy when someone is blessed? If you do, then go back to the first point in this Memo and ask the Lord questions like, “Why am I crying? What was touched in me that moved me to tears? What does it mean, Lord?” The answers may surprise you and hold clues that will help you clarify your purpose. It certainly did for Nehemiah.

Purpose is not just a head thing, it’s a heart thing. You need to involve your entire being as you search for purpose. That means you must pay attention to your feelings – it’s called self-awareness – and seek reasons for what you are thinking and feeling. This week’s point goes hand-in-hand with last week’s and next week I will add one more that will create a powerful trinity of purpose points that will help you find and fulfill your purpose. Next week I will be writing from Kenya, so please be praying for safe travels and purposeful work. Have a great week!


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