Part of a daily devotional series at Words of Hope (https://woh.org/word/devotionals/2013/03/14) looking at how people in the Bible handled tough situations:
Read Nehemiah 2:1-20
The closest I have come to a natural disaster was in Mississippi, six months after Hurricane Katrina. I went there with a group of volunteers from upstate New York to help rebuild homes. I sat in the living room of a man who had seen the surf come in and then was stranded in his house without food or water for days. He started to cry as he told us what it was like. All we could do was listen.
Nehemiah was a Jew serving as cupbearer to the king of Persia. His face was showing his feelings after he heard his brother’s report of the total destruction back home. The king asked why Nehemiah was sad, and he answered truthfully. The king then gave Nehemiah royal letters guaranteeing him safe passage home to organize the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Prior to receiving permission Nehemiah had fasted, prayed, and humbled himself before the Lord. Sometimes the job that stands before us seems so large we cannot imagine where to begin. Nehemiah shows us that the first order of business is to pray and humble ourselves before God. After we pray, we work—which requires time, money, and many strong and willing hands.