Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Comforted by God
v18 I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good.
Do you remember the last time you were in so much anguish and distress, that it affected your demeanor and even your sleep? Was it a personal issue you were struggling with or maybe stress from work or school?
Nehemiah, which means comforted by God, was a Jewish descendant of Babylonian exiles. He had received the prestigious position of cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. The book of Nehemiah begins with his brother Hanani, informing him that “survivors who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah was so troubled that his reaction was similar to what we might have done; he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed.
In all his time as cupbearer, not once was he ever visibly upset in front of the king. However, the plight of his people and city was unbearable and the pain was evident on his face. The king quickly assessed it to be “sadness of the heart.” Nehemiah prayed to the Lord and explained what had occurred. The king authorized Nehemiah to immediately go to Jerusalem and repair the city and its walls. He even provided official royal letters authorizing Nehemiah to do what is required and even to obtain the materials to make the necessary repairs.
Despite having the authority given to him by God through the king, Nehemiah waited 3 days in Jerusalem before beginning an inspection of the walls. Many biblical scholars believe Nehemiah might have spent the time in prayer, preparing himself for what he was about to see. The fact that he woke up in the middle of the night and went off to begin the inspection has always interested me. Was the magnitude and turmoil of the situation weighing so heavily on Nehemiah that he could not sleep? We don’t know for certain, but we do know it was at this point he decided to embrace the authority given to him by God and the king to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The man who was in extreme discomfort found comfort in knowing the Lord was with him. He courageously told the Jews, priests, nobles, officials, and the rest that were to do the work about the gracious hand of God that was upon him. This was the assurance needed for the people to confidently say, “Let us start building!”.
May we be equipped and prepared to be used by God to advance His mission in our life and for the glory of His name. And may we be willing to be comforted in the times of greatest discomfort knowing the gracious hand of God is ever upon us.
Dear Lord, help us to be like Nehemiah and have the confidence in knowing you are guiding us through all our trials and tribulations. AMEN
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“Let us learn this lesson from Nehemiah: you never lighten the load unless first you have felt the pressure in your own soul. You are never used of God to bring blessing until God has opened your eyes and made you see things as they are.” – Alan Redpath
Dr. Ron Jacob, Long Island MTC
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church