Overcoming Opposition

Imagine building a wall out of rubble like this. That was Nehemiah’s job.

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?

6 thoughts on “Overcoming Opposition

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  1. great article, Judy…I always lift up Nehemiah as the first workcamper when I speak to groups (young and old, alike) about workcamping as a mission immersion experience!

  2. Thank you, Judy! I love when we can learn from the Old Testament how to handle life now. Praying first is a huge one and one that I often put after I already start in on the problem. So thankful for the reminder! When I face opposition, I try to ask God if this is really what He wants me to do. So far the answer has been ‘yes’ and to keep trying. I also noted that Nehemiah was single-minded and that might be a good thing for me to pray about too, before I start something, that God would help me be single minded about whatever it is.
    God bless you!

  3. If I have opposition, it’s because God has allowed it. I then seek the Lord to find out if I need to learn a lesson or if the Lord has a special answer for the problem or if maybe I have missed His best. Whatever the problem, the Lord has the answer to any opposition in my path.

  4. Hey Judy. Nicely written as usual! After some reflections, I find that most of my opposition seems to be self inflicted. I am the chief ridiculer of myself when I fall short of what I perceive to be my aptitudes. I also am not always kind to my body by over-feeding it and under exercising it, so I am also the source of my physical threats. Hmmmm. Part of my lenten practice is to be kinder to my body and spirit. When I start drifting into those unhealthy oppositional patterns…I pray, or meditate on the life of Jesus. So far, so good! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. 🙂

    1. Hi Jan, We’re hardest on ourselves, aren’t we? Sounds like you’ve got an excellent plan for kindness to your body and spirit. So glad it’s going well, and thanks for taking the time to comment. Love you:)

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