We know Nehemiah too well to second-guess his motive. His prayer to be remembered by God springs from love, not self-love, as his tireless zeal for God has testified. To hear God’s ‘Well done’ is the most innocent and most cleansing of ambitions (Derek Kidner). Nehemiah is not an actor aiming for an Oscar. He’s a humble servant pleading for mercy.
God’s remembering in Scripture is never a mere recollection of the past, as if he forgot. It always includes his resolve to act in the present or in the future, either in mercy or in judgment. For example, God remembered Noah in the ark (GEN 8:1). And the Psalmist prays: Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people (PS 106:4). Likewise the thief who was crucified with Christ: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (LK 23:42). Blessed are these whom God remembers.
By the same token, God’s forgetting in Scripture is never a lapse of memory, but an impartial decision to ignore those who constantly ignore him. …those whom you remember no more…are cut off from your hand (PS 88:5). According to Ivan, the quasi-atheist in The Brothers Karamazov, those whom God forgets sink down to the lowest hell. Ivan is not far from the truth. Woe to those whom God forgets.
Being ignored by God is the ultimate misery. To be left alone with our false and fallen self forever. This is torture. To be abandoned to our superficial, sensual, D.I.Y. ‘happiness’ for eternity. This is hell. There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell (C.S.LEWIS). Remember me, O my God, for good.
WALL OF DUTY
It is not enough to say that [the zealous man] is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, wholehearted, fervent in spirit.
[The zealous man] sees one thing. He cares for one thing. He lives for one thing. He is swallowed-up in one thing, and that one thing is to please God.
Whether he lives or whether he dies; whether he has health or whether he has sickness;
Whether he is rich or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man or whether he gives offence;
Whether he is thought wise or whether he is thought foolish;
Whether he gets blame or whether he gets praise, whether he gets honour or whether he gets shame —
For all this, the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.
If he is consumed in the very burning, he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn, and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him…
If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, then he will do the prayer-work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill (Ex 17:9-13).
If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest until help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done.
Make this your holy passion. Pray: O God, may I be remembered for one thing — that I lived my life to please you and to glorify you.