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