Nehemiah modeled an example of obedience to God.
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
Nehemiah was so emotionally distraught about the condition of the people of Judah and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, he gave up food for a period of time to focus his attention on God. His concern did not paralyze him, but propelled him toward God. No matter our situation, the hand of God is always the best place to lay our burdens.
Nehemiah pushed through his fears.
I was very much afraid, but I said to the king…
— Nehemiah 2:2
In his fear, Nehemiah shared his concern with the king. He could do this because he had given prayerful consideration over an extended time and had sought God’s direction, while performing his duties in a way that won the confidence of the king. We should emulate his dedication to prayer and dependence on God, while living in such a way that those around us see a faithful follower of Christ and a trustworthy worker.
I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem… so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall.
— Nehemiah 2:11–15
Nehemiah took time to assess the situation. And while desiring concealment, his advisors were presumably chosen for their wisdom, as well as their ability to keep his plans secret. Likewise, we are wise when we surround ourselves with wise and discreet friends, knowing they will guard what we tell them and provide honest feedback.
Nehemiah prayed and protected.
But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
— Nehemiah 4:19
It is worth noting that the prayers were now being offered by all of the people, not just Nehemiah. His faith and conviction had spread. This is good leadership! While continuing to rely on God for their provision and protection, Nehemiah wisely prepared by arming the workers and stationing watchmen. In the same way, we should cautiously guard against the snares of sin and the evil traps of Satan.
God worked through Nehemiah because of the prophet’s willingness, obedience and wisdom. His prayers were specific and numerous. His concern made him uncomfortable and troubled, yet his response was honest, obedient and washed in prayer. His preparation was thorough, and his plans were detailed and comprehensive. His leadership was confident and focused. His commitment to the task was unwavering. And his remembrance of God was constant.
Is there something that weighs heavily on you? Do you feel like the walls in your life are crumbling? Are you heartbroken about something? Is there an encumbrance that interferes with your clear communication with God? Are you struggling to work out your salvation?
I encourage you to be honest with God. Pray as often as you think of your burden. Make a plan and follow through, acknowledging God’s hand on you. Seek wise counsel and rebuke the enemy, enlisting others you trust to support you along the way. Find God in his Word and follow his directives as detailed in it. Follow Nehemiah’s example and begin rebuilding whatever wall in your life that is crumbling.