G.K. Chesterton said, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors and to love our enemies probably because they are the same people.” In Nehemiah, the neighbors from on all four sides became opposition to progress. Nehemiah 4:1-23, details the situation and the adjustments Nehemiah had to finish the building project. For Nehemiah and us, one of the hardest things to fight against during the change process is to become discouraged. There are several sources of discouragement that we need to aware of.
Nehemiah 4:1-3 and other places, records Israel’s opposition taking verbal jabs at them. Lies and accusations are part of the Devil’s devices. Using ridicule, the enemy belittled Israel’s qualities, derided their ambitions, mocked their optimism, attacked their enthusiasm and undermined their confidence.
The next source of discouragement came from the actual threat of brute force (vs. 7-8). For us, despair may originate from a decrease in our health, the lack of resources, or the abandonment of our help.
The last source is personal burnout (vs. 10-12). Burnout is when our passion for living and working is gone. The people’s burnout came from fatigue, frustration, and fear.
Nehemiah knew that they could not quit now. We can be sure that when we are moving forward for God, that opposition will come. Change sometimes requires confrontation. During those times it is important to endure. Calvin Coolidge said, “Press on. Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are the overwhelming power!”
How did Nehemiah overcome? He prayed to God (vs. 4-5, 9). Nehemiah knew that the work could not be done without God’s help. The work that was happening was more than just their work; it was God’s work.
Nehemiah also made adjustments as necessary (vs. 13). It becomes necessary in our plans to make changes at certain times. We must keep the mission in the center but realize that God may have us approach completion in a different fashion than what we first imagined. Persistence is not doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Instead, it is keeping the goal in mind while using different methods to achieve this aim.
Prayer: Father, we desire to do your work, but we do not see a way forward. The opposition has come to frustrate the work, and we are feeling the brunt of the attack. We pray for your guidance to open our eyes to see a path forward. Give us strength and refresh our passion. Amen.