Wouldn’t you like to overcome all opposition to your work? Not that you wouldn’t have any – make no mistake we’ll always have opposition – but that you would be able to get past it and complete the job.
Nehemiah is a man who did just that.
Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king of Persia in about 444 BC, and when he heard about the shambles that Jerusalem was in – the wall around the city was non-existent and the gates had all been burned down – he prayed that the king would give him favor and allow him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. His prayer was answered clearly and immediately.
Nehemiah was single-minded about his purpose. He had a God-given vision of a more secure Jerusalem, and nothing would stop him from rebuilding that wall.
He faced many obstacles: emotional threats, physical threats, social threats, and personal threats. He handled them all, and we can learn from him how to handle threats in our own lives and work.
Emotional threats came in the form of intimidation and ridicule. Nehemiah treated trash-talking as trash. He threw it out. Nehemiah prayed, “Hear us, O our God, for we are despised,” ignored it from that point forward and got on with the work.
That is excellent advice when we are facing intimidation and our own thinking becomes confused and self-defeating. With all the input coming at us these days, it’s difficult to keep our minds focused. The people Nehemiah led worked with all their heart, which is evidence of God’s approval.
Pray, and then ignore intimidation.
“So, we rebuilt the wall…for the people worked with all their heart.” (Nehemiah 4:6)
Physical threats. Nehemiah got wind of plans to attack the people, and he “prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Nehemiah 4:9)
Once again, he prayed first. That is always the first thing we should do. It’s a no-brainer. However, many times I find myself well into thinking about a problem, planning strategies to confront it, and then I remember to pray. Oops.
And he posted a guard. He saw the reality and dealt with it at great cost to his people and with impact on the project. Nehemiah did what he had to do. That is good advice for Christians. Sometimes we pray, ask God to take care of something, and then we sit back and watch. Nehemiah’s example helps us to take necessary action.
Pray first, and post a guard if necessary.
“So, we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the starts came out.” Nehemiah 4:21
The Bible summarizes all of this into a few paragraphs. It looks so easy, doesn’t it? I’m sure Nehemiah struggled, but he ended up with the right answers. Nehemiah handled emotional and physical opposition by praying and posting a guard. Social and personal opposition are still around the corner, and will be the subject of my next post.
Can you relate to Nehemiah? How do you handle opposition?