1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
I was cupbearer to the king.
Confessing a sin can be void of any pain or sacrifice. Repenting for sin, by contrast, is anchored entirely in pain and sacrifice. Repentance not only comes after one has seen the destruction of sin in one’s life, but after one has reflected on the potential darkness we all possess within our hearts. While God is quick to show us the far-reaching power for good that resides in the human heart, He is as quick to show us that within the same heart is a similar appetite for evil. Repentance rarely comes after prolonged periods of good fortune. As our good days begin to outweigh the bad, we daily reinforce our own strengths, our own will and our own plans. Repenting of sin must come from a place where our paths have repeatedly led us, crashing into the same wall. In order to reach true repentance, we must sometimes crash into this wall hundreds and hundreds of times before realizing that we are simply retracing heavily worn out ground. From here we can begin to ask for help, and as slow as we are to change, God is quick to remind us how quickly He intends to rebuild us and guide us, into the light and out of darkness. Once we are completely enveloped in light we can finally see the dark for what it really was. Dark is not dark if you choose to never turn on the light. Our eyes adjust and we can function in the dark if we choose to. However, once we have lived a full day in a well-lit room, none of us would ever choose to go back. Light produced life and we were created to live. Choose repentance and choose light.