The Features of Nehemiah's Travail
Nehemiah had the report from his brethren who came back as to the state of things in Jerusalem. The walls were broken down, the gates were burned with fire, and the people were in a deplorable position. He had the report, he knew all about the need, but he was totally unable to do anything. Only God could do it. Do believe, dear friends, that that is a position which gives great promise. That is a position of which God works. Those who are going to be most used of the Lord and most fruitful in fellowship with the Lord will come to the place, not once nor twice, but again and again, where they know they can do nothing; only the Lord can do it. But their soul is in travail over the whole thing. It is not a matter of throwing up the hands and sitting back and saying, 'I can do nothing, therefore I do not care.' That is not Nehemiah, not at all. He turned his travail into prayer; and you know when travail becomes prayer and prayer is travail, things are very real, things are very pure - because that kind of prayer and travail deals with all the self elements.
How often there are elements of ambition in our wanting to do something, that we should come into the work, that we should come into the picture, that we should come into the satisfaction of doing something, that we should be in some position; and when the Lord deals with us like this and the whole agony turns to prayer, in that prayer all these elements are dealt with very thoroughly and go out. The very fact that it is travailing prayer when nothing else can be done proves that there is no self in this. Our praying is travail. It is not asking for something for ourselves - it is agony for what is of God.
Presently Nehemiah will be charged with having personal interests. His enemies will say that he is wanting to set himself up as the king, and he is appointing prophets to preach him. What a subtle assault of the devil to bring an accusation upon the man to undo him! If it were true, how he would be undone by that assault of the devil! If the devil ever has real ground to say, 'After all, it is number One that is governing this whole thing: it is your own ambition, it is yourself!' - if he has ground for saying that, we may well be floored and undone. But it had to be so with Nehemiah that such accusations had no ground. He was able to say: 'You feigned this out of your own mind' (Neh. 6;8). 'This is not true. God has dealt with me in the depths. He has sifted my soul of all such interests for myself.' The ground had to be undercut from the enemy so that he had nothing personal upon which to work.
Now, Nehemiah's countenance was sad before the king, and the king noted it. But his countenance did not speak of self-pity or of personal frustration. It spoke of grief concerning spiritual conditions.
The Lord knows how things are at the present time. The Lord sees how different they are from what He intended. He knows all about this. He must bring some people to see as He sees, and feel as He feels, and commit themselves to that which He shows them, at any cost. This introductory word is the challenge. We cannot go on with the work or the warfare until we re like this, really like this - people after the kind of Nehemiah. That Lord make us that.
(continued with # 1 - "The State of the Wall, Nehemiah's Action")