I cannot conclude this chapter without commenting again on Nehemiah’s courage. “Should a man like me run away?” (6:11). The words echo across the centuries to us. Like Nehemiah we live in days when we must let our courage be seen by the way we act and speak. It will help us, perhaps, to realize that true courage does not consist in the absence of fear but in doing what God wants even when we are afraid, disturbed and hurt.
This was true of Nehemiah. Long before the task in Jerusalem began, as he faced the question of making his first request to Artaxerxes, Nehemiah confessed, “I was… afraid” (2:2). He probably experienced fear many times in his life, but at the start of the story he established the habit that became of real service to him later—moving ahead in spite of fear.
It was in that moment that he enrolled in God’s school of courage. He graduated with honors from the same school when many months later he declared, “Should a man like me run away?”
It is a tough school. Thousands of leaders down the ages have taken the course. There are practical classes in opposition, in difficult circumstances, in loneliness, misunderstanding and tribulation. Some students quit because classes are so rough, not realizing their value. There are no entrance qualifications. Any Christian may apply for training. And the Principal himself is available for interviews with every prospective student, at any hour of the day. You have only to knock and you will be admitted into his office.