Have you ever experienced a time in your life when it felt like everyone and everything was against you? Everywhere you turned, you faced the enemy’s fiery darts. Such times call us to trust in the Lord and stand firm in our faith. In today’s reading, Nehemiah and the rest of those rebuilding Jerusalem continued to face opposition.
Nehemiah 4:1–3 recounts the taunts that Sanballat and Tobiah lobbed at the Jewish people—and not just privately. Sanballat ridiculed them “in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria” (v. 2). They derided the people, calling them “feeble,” along with their work—“even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” (v. 3).
Nehemiah sprang into action, showing believers even today how to address opposition to God’s work. First, Nehemiah prayed (vv. 4–6). This isn’t the sort of prayer we are accustomed to. Nehemiah asked God to turn the enemies’ taunts back on them, even imploring God to “not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight” (v. 5). Prayers like this (see also Psalms 58, 109) show that it is good and right to bring all of our concerns to the Lord. When we leave vengeance to the Lord, we are free to forgive our enemies.
Second, the people got back to work (v. 6), even though the opposition continued (vv. 7–14). The continued opposition led the people to pray more and even take a third step—they readied themselves for battle. They trusted God’s sovereignty, but they also prepared appropriately. Finally, Nehemiah encouraged the people: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (v. 14).
>> We each react in different ways to opposition. But Nehemiah’s example helps us remember to keep on task and to trust God, even when the going gets tough. Remember these four points when you face trouble.
There is so much potential for fear—fear that we made the wrong choice, that we heard You wrong, that those who ridicule us are right. Lord, we need to hear and recognize Your voice. We can face anything if You are with us.