The past year has been an incredibly difficult one. It has been an intense season of sifting. And while I know sifting is ultimately for my good, I still loathe the process.
It is so easy for me to focus on the negative, to only see the tough stuff. But, the reality is, that the Lord has still blessed us over the past year. In small ways and in big ways. I know He is preparing us for something. I feel as if we are right on the precipice of a break through. And I can’t wait to see what that is. We are *this* close – I know it!
But today was a rough day. Though I cannot pin point one thing or another, I woke up today exhausted, overwhelmed, and struggling. The enemy seems to have his hand in every single area of my life. All relatively small things….but today the pile of small things added up to too much. At the end of the day, through tears, I looked at my husband and said, “I just want to quit. I can’t do this. It’s too hard.”
But isn’t that what the enemy wants? If I quit, if I throw in the towel, it’s all over. He wins.
Nehemiah was faced with similar circumstances. In chapter 6 he is *this* close to finishing the wall (more on this here, here and here). All he had left to do was add gates. So his enemies came at him, full force, with a vengeance.
As a last resort, they were pulling out all the tricks. First, they tried to trick him. They arranged to meet with Nehemiah with the intention to harm him. Fortunately, Nehemiah didn’t fall for their scheme, even though they attempted multiple times. Next, these men spread false rumor about Nehemiah, trying to intimidate him into giving up.
At this point, Nehemiah does two things. We would do well to follow his example.
- He prays, “But now, my God, strengthen my hands” (vs. 8). What a perfect prayer when we are in the midst of spiritual warfare!
- He seeks counsel. Scripture tells us to seek the wisdom of others (Proverbs 24:6). But Christ also warns us that there will be false prophets (Matthew 24:24). Nehemiah sought the counsel of a known prophet, Shemaiah.
However, the enemy will use even those in leadership to do his bidding. Thanks to discernment from being in the presence of the Lord, Nehemiah realized that Shemaiah was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, “I realized that God had not sent him…” (vs. 12). Shemaiah encouraged Nehemiah to run to the temple and hide from his problems, from the enemy, “He was hired, so that I would be intimidated,do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me” (vs. 13).
When we encounter tribulation, when we are sifted, the first thing the enemy wants us to do is run and/or hide. But it is the last thing that the Lord wants from us. He does not want us to react out of fear or frustration, instead, He wants us to stand firm in the calling He has placed on our life. He wants us to push through and set an example for all of those around us.
Nehemiah did not run, he did not hide, he stood firm and completed the work the Lord had set before him: “When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God” (vs. 16). The same people that had worked so desperately to stop this work soon realized that it had all been the work of the Lord, even from the start. What a testimony!
But the work of the enemy doesn’t stop there. He won’t quit, he is relentless and will do anything and everything he can to thwart the work of the Lord. Though many had finally seen that Nehemiah was doing the work of God, there was still one man trying to bring an end to that work. The final words of this chapter are, “And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.”
He won’t give up. Why? Because his goal is to get you to give up. The closer you get to God’s vision, the harder he will work. He wants you to run, he wants you to hide. The worst part? You don’t always see the effect of that sin right away. And he does that on purpose. The enemy tricks us into thinking we are safe. He makes us believe we made the right choice because everything is going well. But eventually, as you get closer and closer to the edge, he will pull the rug out from underneath you and everything will fall apart.
Don’t run. Don’t hide. Don’t give up.
The next time you are faced with trials and tribulation, stand firm! Pray and continue the work. Finish what it is the Lord has started. He will never leave your side. No matter how bad it looks, He is there, fighting with you, giving you the strength you need.