What’s Wrong?- Concern in Hard Times
In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” (Nehemiah 2:1–5).
Hiding some of your feelings and concerns is easy when you are thousands of miles away from your spouse. Even if your communication was steady during deployment, having your military man at home can be up close and personal. For some, “up close and personal” can translate to “in my space and awkward.”
Nehemiah’s job description was cupbearer to the king. Persian kings were famous for their drinking parties. The cupbearer was the designated person to carry the wine and give it to the king. Chapter 2 of Nehemiah takes place about four months after Nehemiah received the bad news about the poor condition of Jerusalem. As Nehemiah handed a cup of wine to the king, the king noticed Nehemiah’s sad countenance. Not wanting gloominess to overcome his party and showing some genuine concern, he asked Nehemiah the reason for his sad face.
How do you generally respond when someone asks, “What’s wrong?” You may really want to tell them, but at the same time, you are terrified of the reaction. What if they minimize your feelings or doubt your reasoning? What if you have been working up the courage to ask a question and finally the opportunity comes, but you are suddenly afraid of the possible answer?
Perhaps such thoughts were swirling in the mind of Nehemiah when the king asked him, “What’s wrong?” Was the king angry because he was sad during a festive moment? Would the king react favorably to Nehemiah’s concern for Jerusalem?
It takes concern to ask, “What’s wrong?”
We are not privy to why Nehemiah became afraid, but what stands out to me is that he overcame his fear. He asked the king to let him go to rebuild Jerusalem.
When you are face to face with your spouse, you can read in his countenance what you may never see in a text message or email. It takes concern to ask, “What’s wrong?” It takes courage to open up and share what is bothering you. Love shows concern and is courageous. Love overlooks imperfections for criticism, but searches out hurts for healing. Some people are more intuitive than others. Do your best to listen carefully for pain within your spouse. If you think you hear it, ask the question. Take time to understand your spouse’s pain and ask the Lord’s help for healing.
What does Psalm 42:5 tell you about countenances? What would you answer if God asked you, today, “What’s wrong?”
Prayer for the Journey
Father, thank you for being a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3). Help me to be honest with my words and caring with my actions. Amen.