This morning while in prayer I was re-reading the book of Nehemiah. It’s such an encouraging portion of Gods word to me. Over the last month we as a church family have been studying this amazing story. It’s a story about the rebuilding of the City of God.
Nehemiah was a trusted aide and advisor to the King of Persia. While serving in the palace one day, he received a visit from his brother, Hanani, who brought news from Jerusalem. The report was not good. Hanani told him that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.
Nehemiah sat down and wept, mourning and fasting and praying for several months. In a turn of events Nehemiah was able to share his burden with the King who gave him permission to go to Jerusalem to lead the effort to rebuild the wall.
The king gave him full blessing, plus access to vast resources of timber for the project. He even provided for Nehemiah to be accompanied by army officers on 100 mile journey.
The long and short of it. The people of God came together to do God’s work according to Gods will, they committed their resources, their time and their energies to the task. And there was no shortage of challenges, for God’s will did not allow for the wall to be rebuilt without a struggle.
Before the work was half-done the builders were bombarded with sarcasm, criticism and naysayer. Two of these opponents were Sanballat and Tobiah. They were upset and angry because the walls were being rebuilt.
The criticism was prompted by progress, which often occurs when God’s people start to make things happen. The devotion and determination of this small band of Jews ought to have evoked admiration, but it was the opposite. The opponents simply couldn’t bear to see anything-positive happening.
To them, any change in the status quo was a threat; and, even though Sanballat and Tobiah weren’t the best of friends, they were drawn together by a mutual hatred of God’s servants. Critics usually run with critics; and while not all criticism is of the devil, this sure was.
In the pursuit of fulfilling the call of God the people of God faced numerous problems. Anger, Ridicule, Questioning, Criticism. Sarcasm. Treachery. Threats. The enemies called the rebuilding project the Jews’ walls, when in fact it was God’s wall. In reality, they were criticizing God.
Nehemiah recognized this, and he took decisive action to counteract the opposition by taking this most important matter to God in prayer. He resisted the temptation to strike back, because he knew that God was in control.
Here are three steps that we find modeled by Nehemiah to take when we are up against the problems of Life. See how the Holy Spirit would relate this to your life.
01. INTENSIFY YOUR PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER. The waves of persecution never let up while the rebuilding went on, but God’s people had a stronger weapon: “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. Exercising common sense, they set up a defense. They did what was necessary to complement their prayers. If you want to counteract your home being burglarized, don’t just pray, put in an alarm system.
02. EXPECT DIFFICULTLY WHEN YOU DO WHAT’S RIGHT. Great opportunity is often accompanied by great opposition. The Apostle Paul said of the work in Ephesus, “A great door for effective ministry has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” He chose to think primarily about the great open door, not the daunting opponents.
The easiest thing to do when confronted by difficulty is to give up, and nothing pleases Satan or the critics more than for the negative to cancel neutralize the positive. It’s critical to keep going, no matter what is in the way, no matter what threatens to prevent you from doing God’s will.
03. DON’T GIVE UP OR GIVE IN. Nehemiah and the workers were invincible because they were in the very center of God’s will. They would not give up or give in. Faced with deceit, distraction and discouragement on all sides, they kept relying on God’s power and He gave them the victory. God’s promise to us is no different from the one those believers carried in their hearts. John’s first epistle reminds us: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”