The Book of Nehemiah is basically about two things:
- The Jews trying to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
- The Jews’ surrounding enemies trying to stop them.
In Nehemiah’s day, sometimes the opposition was obvious and other times it was subtle. At one point, the opposition Nehemiah faced looked like nothing more than an invitation to a meeting. Nehemiah 6:1-2:
When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.
Then I love Nehemiah’s response in Nehemiah 6:3…
I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”
I have a lot of favorite verses in Scripture. Many of them serve different purposes. This is my favorite verse to tell myself when facing opposition or discouragement in ministry.
The Book of Nehemiah is a great illustration of what ministry often looks like.
You’re trying to serve the Lord while enemies oppose you. To be fair, sometimes the enemies trying to oppose you don’t know they’re hindering God’s work. They might even think they’re doing God’s work, seeing you as the “enemy” that’s opposing what God wants them to do! Confusing Christians and turning them against each other is probably one of Satan’s strongest and most successful strategies when it comes to disrupting the work for God’s kingdom.
To be clear, there’s nothing going on in my ministry that motivated this post. I’m not feeling discouraged or opposed. In fact, I’m feeling quite the opposite. I’m excited about the direction Woodland Christian Church is going. I’m thankful for the new people God has added. I’m blessed by what God is doing in our church family.
So what motivated this post? Nothing more than the reality that there’s an Enemy out there that wants to oppose God’s people. We should understand that whenever we’re doing a work for the Lord we’re going to face opposition.
When we face discouragement – and it’s going to happen – this is what we should tell ourselves: “I’m doing a great work for the Lord and I can’t stop. Why should the work cease while I deal with you?”
If you’re serving the Lord, regardless of what you’re doing, it is a great work. It shouldn’t stop because someone is trying to distract you.
Discuss: Can you share about a time you faced discouragement in ministry? How did you handle it?