By Brandon Smith
Right now, I and the other elders at our church are searching for a new building. Our children’s ministry space is maxed out. Our pastors are all crammed into a tiny office. We’re running two Sunday morning worship gatherings and are desperate to not add a third. Still, these are good problems to have for a 7-year-old church, I suppose.
As we’ve been searching for a new location, we’ve run into dead ends at every turn. Some places are too expensive, others are too small, and still others are gobbled up by investors before we get a chance to look at them. We often want to say alongside the Israelites in today’s passage, “Listen, our God, for we are despised!” (Nehemiah 4:4).
As we’ve seen so far, the Israelites were tasked with rebuilding the wall, and things haven’t gone as easily as they would have liked. Most recently in the story, we see their enemies try to Trojan-horse their efforts, so to speak, and then sneak in unnoticed. But God proves His faithfulness in thwarting their attempts, and the rejuvenated Israelites get back to building.
Nehemiah’s story is not a story about a man and his people building a wall, though that’s the historical aspect of it. The message from the book of Nehemiah is also not about church building projects like the one my congregation is undertaking. No, it’s primarily about trusting in God’s faithfulness when opposition seems overwhelming.
We know in our daily lives that Satan is constantly in opposition to our obedience to God. Our flesh wars against us, pressing us to seek quick fixes rather than cultivating lasting joy. More than that, we let these things cause us to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. To put our passage today another way, we wonder, God, can’t you see? Can’t you hear? We are being attacked on every side!
But God is not in the business of quick fixes. He is making all things new (Revelation 21-22), and He is patient with sinners (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), calling us to enter into His deliberate but still unfolding plan (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). May we not grumble against Him, but remember the faithfulness of our “great and awe-inspiring Lord” (Nehemiah 4:14). May we remember and give thanks for Christ Jesus, who went to the cross to absorb God’s wrath for us—for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2)—and to give us peace until He returns.
Written by Brandon D. Smith
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5 thoughts on "We Kept Rebuilding in Spite of Opposition"
Lord, help me remember to work alongside my brothers and not try to be a lone ranger. Remind me to focus on my part of the wall and trust others to take care of their part.
A difficult but good reminder today to trust the Lord’s “deliberate and still unfolding plan”. Especially with regard to paige and her health and salvation. It’s easy to get impatient and frustrated and to doubt and question why God doesn’t heal her, why she isn’t getting better. But we are tasked with work and we must arm ourselves against fear and doubt and make sure to keep vigilant against those attacks. We must work with one hand while holding a weapon in the other.
Our relationship with God is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There is no shortcut to deeper intimacy with God, it takes time. It’s a journey of faith and trust and surrender. The Israelites could have stopped building the wall because people were against them, they weren’t professionals, they were tired, and on and on. We must continue to “run the race as the get the prize” as Paul says.
Day 5: I think this is a perfect picture of what being a Christian really looks like. Continually building the wall of the church, strengthening your walk in God and consistency of devotion to him, while holding a sword and fighting off the evil one. It takes skill. Holding two things at once with the importance of both is hard, but doable because we’ve got the greatest construction and life manager watching out for us. ⚒
This passage of Nehemiah is more familiar, the Israelites are facing persecution from beyond the wall by men who want to see them fail. The Kobe as hard enough with both hands, let alone with a hand holding on to a weapon at all times. Back-breaking labor while afraid to turn your back.
God, however, continues to be faithful and provide. The men are protected and encouraged.
When I face discouragement, I too should recognize how faithful God is.
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