Written by Micki Ann Harris | ChattHOP Staff
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news first: If you are in ministry and have placed your hands to a good work, you will have no end to opposition. The good news? If you are in ministry and have put your hands to a good work, you will have no end to opposition.
The half empty glass is half full.
You have said “yes!” to some assignment God has entrusted to you. You have made many sacrifices to see it come to pass and you find yourself in the company of companions you did not ask to have, nor did you invite into this work: discouragement, intimidation, insecurity, doubt and other thugs in the gang called Opposition. Like a beautiful Spring picnic invaded with gnats and mosquitoes, everything in you screams, “WHY!?” Why must the one come with the other?
My friend, who told you it would be any different?
I have this mentor named Nehemiah (It’s a one-sided thing. He doesn’t know I exist). He lived in the fifth century BC, and was instrumental in restoring a devastated city and helped to rededicate its people to God following the Babylonian exile. With a wrent heart, full of concern for his people and land, he rallied the people to “rise and build” – to repair the breaches through rebuilding the wall and setting the gates in place – thus restoring a strong defense.
I grew especially fond of him when I discovered the many ways he and his people were fiercely opposed – but completed the work nonetheless. The opposition to the rebuilding begins with a duo of offenders who were generally disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the weary inhabitants. The very moment the rebuilders put their hearts and will to this good work, the disturbance escalates to mocking and ridicule.
As the Jewish people are at their posts, hands to the restoration, the assaults come: “What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe? …. What do they think they’re building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight.”
But Nehemiah prayed.
“Oh listen to us, dear God. We are so despised…” (Neh 4)
With increasing intensity, the growing band of terrorists plot trouble, violence and even death: “They became very angry and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.”
But Nehemiah says, “Nevertheless, we made our prayer to God.”
Not surprisingly, as the assaults continue the strength of the laborers begins to give out as discouragement sets in. It appeared that it might not be worth it anymore. Nehemiah admits that “they were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.'” Nehemiah 6: 9
It pains me not to go into detail of how each threat was prayerfully handled: the brilliant way Nehemiah encourages the people: posting them as families along the wall, giving the charge to have courage and to remember their great and awesome God, instructing the people to continue their mission with both tools and weapons in hand.*
On one confrontation, however, I will elaborate. Just as the work is to be completed, Nehemiah finds further opposition and setbacks among and throughhis own people, and finally from adversaries now attempting assassination. As the remaining gaps of the wall are closed in and the doors were about to be set in the repaired gates, Nehemiah receives a persistent invitation: “Come let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
But Nehemiah, knowing of their schemes to harm him, sends back his RSVP five times over: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” *
Good point, Nehemiah!!
Why should the work stop by surrendering to the demands of the Opposition?!
Nehemiah gives us a valuable lesson here: Don’t negotiate with terrorists.
Has God called you to some good work? Don’t be surprised by adversity. Let it serve to train you to be prayerful, humble, resolute, dependent on and encouraged in your great and awesome God; as well as appreciative of those who are right at your side fighting the same internal and external – natural and spiritual battles. Remember the real enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy* is not the one you now face in flesh and blood, although people often do to you what the enemy wants to do to you.
Be encouraged, friends. He sees. He knows. He who was faithful to the very end and who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it – which makes all the difference.* He sees your weakest and strongest moments. You matter and what has been placed in your hands has value. Keep your eyes fixed and your hand to the plow. Don’t let the gnats spoil the picnic.
“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”
“So the wall was completed… When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16
* Nehemiah 4, 6, John 10:10, Philippians 1:6