“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, 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, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! 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?’NIV

There’s a book by Susan Jeffers entitled, ‘Feel the fear and do it any way.’ I haven’t read it, but I think it’s a great title. As I see it, courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to do the right thing, even though you may be frightened.

‘’I was very much afraid, but I said to the king…’’

 This was Nehemiah’s moment. He had been waiting for it; praying for it; looking for it. He wasn’t going to let understandable fear rob him of the opportunity. How often have I let fear have the last word? But Nehemiah did not; he would not.

Emotion has a part to play in the life of a believer. It may not always be chirpy, bouncy, chandelier- swinging emotion either. We don’t have to wear fake, superficial smiles all the time. It is right to feel sad about many things in this world. For example, whenever we see the broken-down state of the church in any setting, should this not move us? Ought it not to be fuel for prayer and action?

Prayer: ‘Soften my heart, Lord, soften my heart. From all indifference set me apart.’ (Graham Kendrick).