Irvin Wasswa- Tylertown Campus Pastor LHBC
Nehemiah 1:1-4; 2:1-8
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. 7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
In the beginning of the book of Nehemieh, we find a man broken over the state of his community. Nehemiah hears the news about the walls of his homeland being down, causing chaos among those who lived there. His burden leads him to fervently pray and fast (v.5-11), seeking wisdom and direction on what to do next. What is interesting is that Nehemiah found out the news about the trouble in his homeland in the month of Chislev (November-December) and prayed but we see in chapter 2 of Nehemiah that it wasn’t until the month of Nisan (March-April) that Nehemiah saw his prayer answered to move forward and address the needs in his hometown. He waited 5-6 months before he was able to be released to go. Did his waiting indicate that the Lord wasn’t listening? Did his waiting indicate that the Lord was late in responding to Him? Not at all! God’s timing is always perfect. He is ALWAYS on time!
A quote that I have recently heard pertaining to the timing of God struck me. “Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s timing.” Isn’t that so true? In distressing times, we find ourselves feeling as though we need everything to work out at that said moment. We try and demand for God to work it all out in that moment, shifting our focus to believing that he is more of a genie in a bottle than He is the God of the universe who is good and knows all. When we try to make God into our “genie in a bottle” we make Him too small and we then make our problems, stresses, and situations end up becoming bigger than Him.
As we know, waiting for anything is difficult. We live in a day of microwave faith, where we want everything at that moment. Imagine Nehemiah, fervently praying to the Lord, fasting, asking for wisdom and direction and having to wait several months to make the next move. That has to be difficult. We see him struggle with the difficulty of having to wait at the beginning of chapter two. He was still broken over his people, but we see God open the door for him by the king noticing and releasing him to go to his homeland. What if there is true value in the seasons of waiting in our Christian life? What if the Lord is truly working in our waiting? What if the seasons where God seems to work more like a crockpot than a microwave still show His faithfulness and punctuality?
In Nehemiah’s season of waiting, the Lord was preparing him and the people of Israel to go back and rebuild the walls. In the waiting, God was growing Nehemiah’s faith and trust in Him, and I believe he kept seeking the Lord. Listen friend: He is doing the same for you and I as well. The seasons of waiting for God to answer or to move are not in vain. Perhaps God is trying to grow our dependence on Him. Perhaps He is trying to teach us and prepare us for what is ahead. Whatever it may be, just because God doesn’t answer right away, does not mean He is late. He is always on time. So for you who have been crying out to God for Him to heal, don’t quit praying, keep on seeking. For you who have been praying and waiting for that wayward family member to come home, keep praying. For those who have been in the struggle for awhile, keep praying.
The Lord is good. He is good. Though we may not understand His ways and His timing, we can rest in the fact that He is never late and His timing is always perfect (Jeremiah 29:11-12). So as we seek the Lord and we find ourselves waiting on Him to respond, let’s choose to be like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:14-
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord, help me to remember that You are always on time! You are never late. Grow me in the seasons of waiting on You and help me to trust in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
MEMORY VERSE FOR THE WEEK:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.