They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Neh. 1:3-4, NIV
Nehemiah was a courageous man whose heart was set on the glory of God and the welfare of His people. He lived in Susa and probably very comfortably. He was the king’s cupbearer. A position of importance and he was obviously a man the king liked and respected. Yet, in spite of his luxurious surroundings, his focus was on the kingdom of God.
Side Note: Sometimes Christians get the idea that God only uses the poor or the unlikely to accomplish His purposes. God will use whomever He wants. Sometimes it is the “underdog” or unknown so that His glory and power can be displayed. But sometimes He also uses the wealthy and influential like Nehemiah, Esther and Moses. Our trust and eyes should always be centered on God regardless of who He choses as His instrument.
When Nehemiah learned of the condition of the once great city of God and its survivors, it broke his heart. Many of us know what it is like to have a broken heart. You don’t feel like eating. You don’t feel like doing anything. The days seem to never end. You can’t imagine things ever improving. All you can see is the situation. Some people allow this to drive them into depression and inactivity. Some people freeze.
But not Nehemiah. He mourned and went to prayer. It was a prayer from the heart - the only kind God really listens to. He did not turn from God. He did not accuse God of rejecting and abandoning His people. He recognized that God is both loving and just and that they were suffering the consequences of their own actions. He included himself although there is no record that he was ever anything but a faithful man of God. He reminded God of His promises…and he had thought out a plan.
Nehemiah had to carry on. He went to work. You do not call in sick to the king. While he had previously served with joy, now the light was gone. He was in mourning. And the king noticed. That was a dangerous moment. With one word the king could have him executed [talk about a pressure-filled job!]. Nevertheless, Nehemiah’s previous cheerful work ethic caused the king to ask what was wrong.
When the king asked what he wanted to do about it, Nehemiah didn’t have to fumble around for ideas. He didn’t ask the king to send someone else. He had a plan and it involved himself. He was a man who took responsibility and action.
Are we like Nehemiah? Do the things that break the heart of God, break our heart? Do we mourn when there is sin in the church…the bride of Christ? Do we suffer with Christians who are suffering for their faith? Do we really care about the Glory of God?
And do we have a plan…and plan that includes us? It is no good saying what everyone else should do. What am I going to do?
It all begins with me. Am I willing to live a life to the glory of God? Am I willing to get involved in helping others? Many times we already have busy lives and we don’t need a guilt trip. But we must search our own hearts and ask: How much do I really care? And, What would You have me to do, Lord? Maybe we are already doing all we can.
It might be as simple as sending your pastor a letter of encouragement and support or writing a letter a a person in prison for their faith. It might be something more. That is between each one of us and God. No guilt trips, but lets take a honest look at things for ourselves. I know I have a long way to go…