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April 24, 2021

What do you do when you receive bad news? Do you panic, do you become anxious, or do you attempt to intervene and change things? After reading Nehemiah chapter one I realized his actions revealed a good template to follow. So, let’s examine what happened to Nehemiah and see how he responded to bad news.

While living in captivity in Shushan Nehemiah was a high-ranking official in King Artaxerxes’s household. Proven to be trustworthy he became the cup-bearer and it was his duty to serve the drinks at the king’s table. While carrying out his duty he met with one of his countrymen named Hanani who told him the following. “The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.”

This news had an emotional effect on Nehemiah for he wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. Notably, Nehemiah did not ask his countryman what he should do, instead he took the matter to God in prayer.

His prayer first acknowledged the supremacy of God, and then he acknowledged that he was a consistent prayer. He continued his prayer by confessing Israel’s sins, the consequence of their sinning, and the results of their repentance. Nehemiah concluded his prayer with these words, “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.” Nehemiah sought God for Divine intervention; he needed God to touch the heart of King Artaxerxes, and chapter two revealed God answered his prayer.

Following Nehemiah’s example, we should take our problematic situations to God and not to man. In that prayer, first, acknowledge God’s greatness, confess any sin that would hinder the prayer from being heard and answered, and then make the request. This is a simple formula, and I can attest to the fact it works when you work it.

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