In the Face of OppositionAugust 14, 2018 - 12:00 am
I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” — Nehemiah 2:20
Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are – not what God does. Our devotions throughout this month are focused on the purpose of prayer, how to pray effectively, and the power of our prayers. Allow us to take your prayers to the holiest site in all Judaism, the Western Wall. To submit a prayer request to be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, please go here.
When I began the work of creating an organization devoted to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews, the naysayers quickly emerged. “Why are you doing this?” “This isn’t going to work.” “How can anyone repair two thousand years of animosity and discord between these two?”
If I had listened to my detractors, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews might never have been birthed. But I trusted that an organization whose mission was to help “God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1) was following God’s heart and that He would guide me and give me success. And He did!
Nehemiah certainly faced his detractors as well. Even before he started to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem, his critics mocked him, “What is this you’re doing? . . . Are you rebelling against the king?” Despite their ridicule, Nehemiah remained resolute. Look at his answer: “The God of heaven will give us success.”
Unfortunately, Nehemiah’s enemies did more than just threaten the people with words. They began to attack the people as they worked on the walls. Rather than give up in despair, Nehemiah first prayed to God for protection and then took action to position guards and arm the people in defense.
Prayer and action, prayer and action. Are you seeing a pattern here? Just as he had when petitioning the king for favour, Nehemiah trusted God to protect him while he remained focused on his goal: to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was determined to follow the Lord’s plan, no matter how hard it became for him and his people.
Opposition can be deadly to any plan. It can cause discouragement and despair. It can even make us give up if we allow it to take our focus off our goal. When you face criticism for doing what you know is right, remember Nehemiah. Refuse to respond to your detractors in kind or become discouraged. Take your concerns to God in prayer and tell Him how you feel.
Remember God promises that He will be with you. And as you labour in His name, God will reward your faith — just as He did for Nehemiah.