Focal passages: Nehemiah 4:1-3, 6-9, 14-18
Doing God’s work brings out detractors and opposition. As I write, a rescue operation is underway in Thailand to free 12 young soccer players and their coach. The team has been trapped by monsoon rains in an extensive cave system for almost two weeks and can only be reached by professional divers.
These rescue workers face daunting obstacles. The cave is narrow, oxygen is scarce and several boys cannot even swim. The task ahead seems almost impossible.
We may not have our diving certification, but as followers of God, we too have been given a great task. We are to obey God by serving Him and proclaiming His salvation. And, like the experts in Thailand, we must expect great challenges.
Nehemiah’s persistence in the face of opposition is an example to us of how to respond in times of trial. As Nehemiah and the people of God rebuilt the wall in Jerusalem, they were mocked by those around them. Some asked, “What are these pathetic Jews doing?” (Nehemiah 4:2). Others predicted the wall would never be built successfully.
The workers at the Jerusalem wall were not surprised by such derision. Instead, they sought God in prayer and kept building, positioning guards around the wall for protection both day and night. When we face opposition while working for God, we must prayerfully commit our work to the Lord and continue in faithful obedience.
The workers on the wall also vigilantly prepared for opposition. Laborers knew danger could be imminent, so they “worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other” (Nehemiah 4:17).
When we work for God, we must be prepared to face the dangers before us. Instead of cowering in self-preservation, we must press on, trusting the One who has called us to work.
The divers in Thailand are persistent. Instead of giving up, they delivered medication, taught the boys to swim, and lined the tunnels with oxygen tanks. As followers of God, we must be persistent in our work as well, trusting in the faithfulness of the One who has called us to serve.