Last night I was with some men in our church and our discussion turned to Nehemiah chapter four. The scene here is a fascinating one. After much prayer, effort, and sacrifice, the wall around Jerusalem was finally being rebuilt. It’s at this point that opposition to the work arises. It comes first in the form of criticism (v. 2-3). It then escalates into antagonism (v. 7-8). And finally it intensifies intopersecution (v. 11). And what was the result? It discouraged and demoralized the people, threatening the completion of the wall being built (v. 5, 10, 14).
Opposition is one of Satan’s many assaults, and it is an effective one. It can come from work, from family, or from a friend. I have seen it so many times in my own life and sadly, even in the church. It can be very distressing. But God gives a great example in Nehemiah of how to respond and stand firm in the midst of opposition.
First, don’t be surprised by opposition. The Lord said as His disciples that we shouldn’t expect better treatment than He received (Matthew 10:24-25). 2 Timothy 3:12 says “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” According to Christ, it’s when we aren’t mistreated that we should be concerned (Luke 6:26). I love the way one old preacher put it, using the imagery of an outside porch lamp: “Where there’s light, there’s bugs.”
Second, what was Nehemiah’s immediate response to these assaults? He prayed. This is a tremendous resource. Seek the Lord’s help in your distress. He has a purpose for everything that happens to you, and He has promised His grace for every situation (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Third, realize the importance of finding strength and support from God’s people (Hebrews 10:24-25). The Lord has designed it that we have relationships in His church that will give us the encouragement we need. Nehemiah understood the value of this, and pointed the people to the Lord, reminding them of God’s greatness and faithfulness.
And finally, press on. Have you ever heard someone say, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”? That’s simply not true. God does give you more than you can handle so that you will trust Him, so that His strength will be perfected in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Nehemiah and the people found strength in the Lord and were able to stand firm in what He called them to do. And so they continued in His blessing and accomplished His purpose. Again and again God says in His word to not lose heart, to stand firm, to persevere. You are more than a conqueror in Christ (Romans 8:37)! So live out your heritage as God’s child and trust His promise to work His good purpose in your life and through your life.