Four months passed and Nehemiah continued to do his job. The chalice that Nehemiah carried to the king, day in and day out, was symbolic of the internal torment and struggle that Nehemiah carried about his unanswered prayer. He had begged God to intervene. He had pleaded that the Almighty step in…but he had received no response. So, Nehemiah continued on, day after day, with a deep burden of soul that ached with every step.
But one day, as the goblet passed from the powerless hands to the powerful hands everything changed. The king spoke. The palace hushed, as all eyes turned to see the one whose voice was believed to be the voice of a god.
With curiosity in his eyes, Artaxerxes fixed his gaze on this palace slave. “Slave, why are you sad in my presence?” It was a legitimate question for a king to have. There were tens of thousands of slaves who would die for the opportunity to be in the palace halls of the king of the known world, but this slave who had this privilege was somehow sad.
Before he could stop it, the answer bubbled out, “how could I NOT be sad…my people are oppressed and my home country is devastated.”
The king responded, “and what do you want?”
In an instant, Nehemiah had gone from a position equal to that of a dinner napkin, to one that held the attention of the king. Nehemiah’s heart must have been racing. His mind must have screamed a thousand things.
Then Nehemiah turned his gaze upward again. The text literally says, “So I prayed…”
Finding His confidence in the design and desires of God, he finally asked the king for letters of permission, and for building materials. Without hesitation, the king granted him all he asked.
God had been in control all along. In spite of frustration and fear. In spite of heartache and confusion. God had been in control every day.
This is how it is in our lives. We are often overwhelmed by the crashing waves of circumstance. The ache and frustration, the confusion and fear often cripple our minds. But we, like Nehemiah, have a great God. The remedy to these issues is a trust in Him. The safety from the battering tide is His mighty hand. We can always run to Him. He is in control. He will turn our frustration into opportunity. He will change our sorrows into joy.
Food for Thought: Why was Nehemiah able to ask the request of the King? What do you think would have happened to Nehemiah if he had just asked the king in his own timing? (read Est. 4:11)