Tuesday, March 27, 2012

COMING TO THE LORD IN SADNESS

The Holy Spirit directed me to the book of Nehemiah and as I read chapter 2, I saw something I had not seen before. This chapter contains an encouraging story for all who come to the Lord with a heavy heart.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. He tasted the wines before they were brought to the king's table to make sure they weren't poisoned. Over time, Nehemiah became a trusted servant to the king.

Nehemiah received a report from his brother that Jerusalem was in ruins. The population had been decimated, the people were in terrible straits, and conditions were worsening daily. This tore at Nehemiah's heart. He loved Judah and Jerusalem and a sorrow began to grip him.

Scripture says: "And it came to pass . . . I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid" (Nehemiah 2:1-2).

Understand that people were forbidden to come into the king's presence with sadness, especially if they were court employees. Nehemiah knew that having a gloomy countenance could cost him his head and he was terribly fearful.

When the king saw Nehemiah’s grief, he was moved with compassion. Scripture tells us he gave his downcast servant a leave of absence. He also gave him a letter of credit, opening the royal treasury to him. And then Nehemiah received from the king the desire of his heart—permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city walls!

Here is my point: If Nehemiah could go into the presence of a pagan king with a sad countenance and yet find favor and blessings beyond imagination, how much more will King Jesus show compassion to each of us, His children, in our sadness. He is eager to lift our burden and supply our needs.