But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. –James 1:6-7
Nehemiah was a man of faith. However, his story blows the lid off what many believe about faith. In light of the verse above, how does a depressed, sad, droopy-faced, negative-confessing, fearful man receive such bountiful favor from the Lord???
When Nehemiah got the news about the ruinous condition of Jerusalem, he was initially devastated. But it didn’t stop there. Nehemiah went on to say that For some days I mourned.
How long did he mourn ? His great sorrow began in the month of Kislev and continued through the month of Nisan. After four intense months of effectual fervent prayer, how was this man of unrelenting faith behaving? What did this history-changer look like right before his prayers were answered? He was looking and behaving just like he did four months earlier. He was a very heartsick, droopy-faced man…
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.” Another version says, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression. I was overwhelmed with fear.” Nehemiah confesses his lengthy sorrow and says, “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?”
In his 1880 Homiletical Commentary On The Book Of Nehemiah, W.H. Booth said that during the four month period from Kislev to Nisan, Nehemiah’s “sorrow increased rather than diminished”.
Some of you may be alarmed and thinking, “But Brother Dan, Nehemiah is not matching up with THE WAY WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT of how a “man of faith” should behave and look!
- Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s emotions are not lining up with faith. If he really had faith that God would come through for him, then why is he still so depressed? Wouldn’t this be a sign of a double-minded man? Aren’t fear and prevailing sadness signs of doubt?
- Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s behavior was not lining up with faith. He wasn’t practicing the “faith walk” with his head held high, a song on his lips, and a smile of victorious faith. We’ve been taught that real faith will show up on your face! As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he! Brother Dan, he must have had what faith teachers call “stinking thinking” because Nehemiah was looking down in the dumps!. Didn’t he know that all things work together for the good?
- Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s speech was not lining up with faith. He wasn’t “speaking faith” by calling those things which are not as though they were. Nehemiah didn’t confess victory but confessed his own despair. He also seemed focused on how bad Jerusalem was, instead of declaring what it could be. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Brother Dan, death and life are in the power of the tongue. Nehemiah is feeling bad because he obviously hasn’t been confessing victorious faith and his face shows it.
- Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s reflection was not lining up with faith. If he had real faith, he would have reflected perfect peace for those whose mind is stayed on the Lord, because they trust in you instead of looking so pitiful.
- Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s confession of fear does not line up with faith. If he had such great faith, then why is he so afraid? We’re taught that you can’t possibly have faith and have fear!
- Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s hopeless despondence does not line up with faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Nehemiah’s heart was filled with sadness, not hope!
He was looking downcast, afraid, having a heart filled with sadness, confessing sorrow, and still thinking about the ruins. Nehemiah just doesn’t fit the mold of many current faith teachings. Yet, God answered his prayers and granted his requests with much favor. Why? Because during those four long months, Nehemiah operated in sound, biblical faith and never lost it. By faith, Nehemiah built the largest structure by a biblical author.By faith, Nehemiah helped lead a national revival. He was a man of faith.
Nehemiah has blown the lid off of many of our hardcore beliefs about what faith is supposed to look like. So let’s allow Nehemiah to show us how he defined and operated in biblical faith. Continue reading