Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Overcoming Adversity

As we were spending some time in prayer this morning at church, the passages read really hit home.  One of them was from Nehemiah 4.  The wall is beginning to be rebuilt by this point, and the people are moving along quite well.  Nehemiah has them positioned strategically throughout the city, working hard to complete the work.  However, chapter four begins this way: "Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews."

In the midst of victory, there was opposition.  This opposition took the form of words first, as Sanballat and Tobiah began to mock the Jews.  They called the walls "heaps of rubble", and declared that even if only a fox were to walk on the wall, he would break it down.

This hit home because often when we find ourselves moving forward in the will of God, adversity will present itself.  At the beginning, this will often come in the form of attempted discouragement.

You can't do it.

It's too hard.

Give up before you look like the fool.

Even if you complete the task, it will all fall apart later.

These words, unfortunately, are often the attack of Satan.  Sure, he uses people.  Sometimes those people even profess to be followers of Christ.  Most people when they see something which looks impossible want to give up, but that is not our call.  We are called to press forward.

Nehemiah knows what to do.  In verse 4 we see the words "Hear, O God".  Then, in verse 6, "So we built the wall."  He offers the enemy to God, and continues the work.  They didn't allow the jeering to stop them.  They didn't slow down their efforts.  They moved forward.

This made the enemy mad.  It always does when we refuse to give in to discouragement.  So then Sanballat and Tobiah go another route.  They decide they need to marshal an army and attack.  Verse 9 gives us the response of the Jews: "And we prayed to our God and set a guard as protection against them day and night."  They do the two things we should all do; pray and prepare.  They again offer their enemies to God, and are watchful.  They trust God, and continue the work.

We read until verse 14, where Nehemiah stand before the people with an important lesson.  "Do not be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."  The battles we face, the wars we fight, the temptations we struggle with, the victories so hard to achieve; we need to remember that we fight these not only for ourselves, but for those around us.  The Jews needed to remember that though they were building this wall for themselves, it was also for brothers, sons, daughters, wives and homes.  Victory was going to have a lasting impact.  So what should they do?  "Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome."

Perhaps you are facing some of the same things I am right now.  God calling us forward, but people around shouting discouraging words.  What should we do?  It was in our benedictory reading.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith."  

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