Our friend, Nehemiah, faced such a time as this. Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the King of Persia, a generation after the famous story of Queen Esther. Cupbearer was a secure and prominent position that could lend itself to having great influence, bad or good. However, the Lord had plans that would change Nehemiah's comfortable life. Just one simple conversation.
Friends of Nehemiah came from Judah and he asked them how things were for the Jews who survived the captivity and about Jerusalem. Upon hearing the words of great distress, reproach and the desolation of the city, Nehemiah sat and wept. He wept and he mourned for DAYS. He fasted and prayed.
Is there anything in your life that is in ruins? Is there distress? Reproach? How about someone else's life? How about your neighbor that is lost spiritually? Do you care? Do you sit down and weep? Do you fast and pray over their distress? Tough questions, I know. And I must confess, that God has convicted me of what caring really looks like. Could there be more than an "I'll be praying for you" here and a "bless your heart" there? How often do we sit and weep over sacred things, like, broken marriages, lost souls, orphaned children, and prodigal sons/daughters in the lives of others.... until it's us.
Nehemiah prays a beautiful prayer reminding God who He is and the covenant He has promised. He confesses the sins of His people and begs God to hear his prayer.
According to the timeline of the Hebrew months, about 4 mos. pass by after Nehemiah prays. The King notices that Nehemiah is sad. Nehemiah is rightfully afraid as it was expected for those in the King's presence to enjoy the King's company. But God is with Nehemiah. Nehemiah boldly asks detailed permission to go to his homeland that is in ruins so that he could rebuild it.
A couple things stand out to me in these 8 verses. One is that Nehemiah waited on God. He did not force a plan in his timing for how to "fix the problem" the remnant faced and the condition of Jerusalem. It was after 4 mos. that the King noticed Nehemiah's sadness. The text says Nehemiah declares he was never sad in his presence. My conclusion is that it must have been God that made the King aware, thus it was God's timing. Another good example by Nehemiah... waiting on God to hear our cries.
The second observation is that Nehemiah cared enough to say something when the appointed time came. He cared enough for his people and his city to ask a question that put Nehemiah in danger. Nehemiah was afraid but he asked anyway. He prayed to the Lord and the good hand of God came on him. He asked to return and rebuild the city of his people.
Most of us are not typically in a place where caring about someone or doing the Lord's will would put us in physical danger. But many of us face fears of another sort... pride, security, loss. Do we care enough to overcome fear? Do we care enough to seize the moment that God brings about and obey?
Nehemiah cared. He cared enough to weep, mourn, pray, speak up and enough to go. Yep, the next section of chapter 2 is Nehemiah GOING!
Wow... I think I'll be able to chew on these truths in the Word for a few days. If you haven't read these first sections of Nehemiah yet, think about ... the situation, how Nehemiah related to God, and what was Nehemiah's example? And if you want to go deeper, check out Precepts Bible study methods and some commentaries(like Wiersbe)... that's what I used as I studied : ) I have to conclude with a poignant excerpt from Wiersbe's commentary on Nehemiah...
God is still looking for people who care, people like Nehemiah, who cared enough to ask for the facts, weep over the needs, pray for God’s help, and then volunteer to get the job done.
“Here am I, Lord—send me!”
Thanks for reading with me. I love the accountability and I would love to hear any insights God shares with you too!