When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven (v.4).
Job description: Rebuild national security. Deal with economic injustice. Snuff out internal strife. Initiate religious reforms. Remuneration: Threats, threats, and more threats.
Would you give up a comfortable job at the “White House” to take this job? Nehemiah did. He left his job as cupbearer and confidant to the king of Persia in order to help the demoralized people in Jerusalem. What moved him?
First, he didn’t allow his comfortable position in life to nullify his concerns for God’s people—his countrymen. He made inquiries. He talked to people who had just come from Jerusalem to find out the condition of the people and the city (Nehemiah 1:2).
Second, he identified himself with the huddled masses. He didn’t simply shake his head and say, “My, my! That’s too bad.” He didn’t go back to his work in Babylon thinking, “What a tragedy!” Nehemiah not only heard about the need of the people, he felt their need. He wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed for days—entreating God to do something about their condition.
Nehemiah’s greatness came from asking great things of a great God and attempting great things in reliance on Him. Recently, I had the wonderful privilege of meeting some modern-day Nehemiahs. A group of Native Americans in the US organized a fund-raising event for a Christian school for autistic children in India. They not only heard the need, they felt the need and responded to it. In contrast, I find that I’m often apathetic to the physical and spiritual conditions around me.
May God open our eyes, ears, and heart to perceive the spiritual landscape around us—giving us a burden for His people, a vision for His purpose, and a commitment to it. —Poh Fang Chia
Read Isaiah 1:11-17 to see the difference between apathy and true worship.
How does Nehemiah exemplify what it means to be salt and light in the world? Which of his qualities do you need to work on? What will you do to begin pursuing positive change in your life?