This devotional is written by John Peters. John leads St Mary's and is married to Jenny.

Nehemiah 2:1-10

Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem

2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."

I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"

4 The king said to me, "What is it you want?"

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it."

6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

7 I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.


Nehemiah is the cupbearer to a powerful ruler and this is a bit like being Prime Minister. He tells us exactly when the events in this chapter take place (2:1). Looking back to (1:1), this means Nehemiah prayed for four or five months about this matter before speaking to the King.

So, praying about something we really believe God is doing and waiting go hand in hand. Ultimately, we don't know why this is but times of waiting certainly give us an opportunity to grow in patience. Why is patience spiritually crucial? Because there is a lot of waiting involved in the whole Christian shebang! Let's say you are a young convert who is raring to go. The problem is, you have very little to give until you've received; so, you have to wait. Let's imagine you've been a Christian forever and you'd like to go home; you still have to wait.

Just think about life. Older children can't wait to be teenagers, teenagers can't wait to be adults, students can't wait until they are working, young adults can't wait until they get married or have a family; we can't wait. But there is a lot of waiting around involved in life and unless we are going to conduct a one-person revolt against this huge inconvenience and effectively try to rush processes that shouldn't be rushed, often for reasons we can only see looking back, we are going to have to become content while waiting and do something positive with the time that is now.

In Nehemiah's case, God isn't just building a wall. He is also building the character of the man who is going to build the wall; its complex and it takes time.
Reflection: what requires patience from you at this time?

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