The Lord led me to read chapter two of Nehemiah and I saw something I had never 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 of Persia. This meant he tasted the wines before they were brought to the king’s table to be 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 shape, and conditions were worsening daily. This tore at Nehemiah’s heart. He loved Judah and Jerusalem and a sorrow began to grip him.
“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, people were forbidden to come into the king’s presence with sadness, especially the court employees. Nehemiah knew this could cost him his life and he was very fearful. But the king was filled with compassion when he saw Nehemiah’s grief. Scripture tells us he gave his downcast servant a letter of credit, opening the royal treasury to him. And then the king granted Nehemiah the desire of his heart: permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city walls.
Here is the point the Lord made real to me: If it were possible for Nehemiah to enter the presence of a pagan king with a sad, heavy countenance and yet find favour, compassion and blessings beyond imagination, how much more will King Jesus show compassion and bestow blessings on each of us, His children, in our sadness? Would a pagan king show more mercy to a downcast servant than our all-merciful King? Certainly not! The Father’s heart is always moved with compassion toward His children.