I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
Nehemiah 2:3 New Living Translation
When you carry a burden for others for a long time, it will begin to show in your expression. At the point of this story, Nehemiah had been carrying his burden for the city of Jerusalem and it’s people for nearly four months. It was beginning to show in his expressions. For someone who also carried the responsibility of a cupbearer for a king, this could be a dangerous thing. Members of the court were expected to be positive in the presence of the king and present an image that things were going well. Any disheartened expressions could be met with a suspicion that the cupbearer was involved in a plot against the king. So, showing sadness in the presence of the king was a serious matter.
Nehemiah had reached the point where he could no longer just put on a happy face and pretend he wasn’t concerned. The king noticed this and asked what was going on. Instead of responding with suspicion, Artaxerxes showed concern for what was troubling Nehemiah. Nehemiah seems to have earned enough respect from the king that the king was willing to listen to his concern. The king heard Nehemiah’s concern for his homeland and his desire to help restore the wall of the city where he had come from. Artaxerxes eventually approved the plan and sent bodyguards to travel with Nehemiah for protection as he carried out this mission. God had given Nehemiah an ally to carry his burden for his hometown with him.
In our efforts to live out the mission of Christ in our communities, we will often carry a large burden on our hearts. It will often show up in our expressions and others will wonder what is happening. It is then that we need confidence in God and His call to be willing to open up about what is burdening our hearts. If we have found favor in the eyes of our friend, God may use them to be an ally in helping us address the need that burdens our hearts. God can give us favor in these circumstances.
God, You have placed a great burden on our hearts to help see Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Give us allies who will walk with us in fulfilling Your mission for us in this world.