We’re continuing to learn from Nehemiah about how to manage a new beginning. Remember, Nehemiah was called by God to oversee the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. It was a daunting task, no doubt. Perhaps not unlike our own new beginnings. We saw how the seed was planted, and how important resolve to take on the task is. Today we’re going to see what Nehemiah did when facing opposition to this new beginning.
The enemies of the Jews interfered with the wall-building project from the beginning, from mocking insults and trying to undermine the project, to threatening anyone who worked on the wall, and escalating to the physical attacks on the people. The opposition was not going to let up. What could they do? In Nehemiah 4:14, we read, And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “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.”
1. Do not be afraid of them. Nehemiah is not instructing the people to ignore reality and needlessly endanger themselves when facing opposition. Their enemies had them outnumbered and had greater resources. But here’s the thing–Fear paralyzes us. We cannot, will not take necessary action if we are afraid. Nehemiah knew they could not allow fear to cause them to lock up and quit.
We are no different. Fear of failure. Fear of making someone mad. Fear of ridicule. Sometimes, even fear of success can keep us awake at night, consume our thoughts and sap our energy. If Nehemiah had stopped here, we would be rightly frustrated with him. Anybody can say “Don’t be afraid,” and walk away. Nehemiah tells us what to do instead.
2. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome. When we discussed having resolve, we saw that knowing God was in a thing made it a lot easier to commit to. Here, Nehemiah is reminding his people that the God they serve, the God who commissioned them to this task is great and He is awesome. That had not changed. God never promised the project would go forward without any bumps, but the difficulties were an opportunity to depend on God, to let Him work.
If we lose sight of the fact that God is with us, we too, will give up. If we forget who God is, we will tend to see things in human terms only. God knew the opposition would come when He called us. He isn’t surprised at all.
3. Fight. The fear and the pep talk must give way to action. Nehemiah reminds them that others depend on their action. The stakes are high but they are worth it!
When God gives us a new beginning to undertake, it is in line with His long-term kingdom-advancing plan. We cannot afford to be inactive or even hesitant. The stakes are eternal. Pour yourself into the work.
Nehemiah was confident he was following God even when he faced tremendous, exhausting opposition. But at the end of the day he could pray, “Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.” Nehemiah 5:19. It wasn’t a boast, but a humble request for God’s blessing on doing what God had given Him to do. May we be able to pray the same kind of prayer, knowing we have done what God gave us to do as best we could.