Satan is always at work. He is lurking and waiting, seeking any crack in the armor of our faith. He looks for any opportunity to sow his seeds. Two of his most powerful are discouragement and destruction.
Prayers we feel go unanswered. Troubles that fill our lives. Wickedness in the world. A majority who belittle us for our faith. It is easy to become discouraged, to have doubts. Satan’s work.
How could God allow such things? All of us have asked this question at some time or another.
We look back at the shambles of our lives. How can we overcome such a mess; how can we rebuild from the debris? The challenges are immense.
Let’s take a look at Nehemiah.
When Nehemiah was returned to Jerusalem he faced a very discouraged people. The Temple and walls were piles of debris. Judah was surrounded by bitter enemies. Nehemiah himself could have become discouraged or been overpowered by the detritus of the city. He was neither.
Nehemiah could have chastised the people for their apostasy. He could have returned as a general or even claimed the kingship. He didn’t.
Nehemiah keep his faith and keep his eye on the ball. He was returned to accomplish a mission and he retained his focus.
Nehemiah did not immediately declare his mission and plans. Instead, when he returned to the city, he fell on his knees and sought guidance. Then he quietly assessed the situation, inspecting the destroyed walls and gates. It was only when he knew the situation, developed a plan that he went to the people to guide them on what needed to be done.
The initial work went well, the walls were partially rebuilt with some gaps and the wall to only half its original height. Then two things happened.
First, when half way done, the people became discouraged. What an overpowering task this was! “It is too big a task, it is too hard!” said the people. Nehemiah developed a plan to both protect the city and continue with the rebuilding.
Judah’s enemies plotted to destroy the rebuilt walls and kill all the people. It was those living nearest the enemies who were most alarmed (Nehemiah 4:12).
Again, Nehemiah sought guidance from God and encouraged the people. He also developed a another plan to both protect the city and to complete the rebuilding. Nehemiah was successful in his mission.
What can we learn from Nehemiah?
First, we must recognize and face the problems we have in life, those things that can be so discouraging. We can’t bury our heads in the sand or simply ignore our doubts or disappointments. And we can distance ourselves from the influence of satan, from the opportunities he seeks to plant the seeds of discouragement and doubt. We can, among other things, distance ourselves from the influences of our enemies. We can be careful in what we read and the movies we watch. We can take care of our health. We can teach our children. We can recognize the God’s plan does not always coincide with our plan.
Then, we can face forward rather then backward when considering the shambles of our lives. The Jews could have looked at the debris of the walls and said “No way we can fix this mess. There is too much to overcome: it is too hard.” Nehemiah, with guidance from God, kept the people looking forward. It was certainly not an easy job for him, but he persevered.
And remember always that in Jesus we have HOPE. He is the way.
Alive in The Word