I, and many others, have felt this way from time to time. Maybe it is an old habit you can’t shake. Maybe it is a sin you can’t stop. Maybe an addiction/obsession you can’t quit. Maybe a resolution you broke by Valentine’s Day. The feeling of defeat is like being unable to take a breath. There is a truth to be learned: when you want to do good, evil is right there too. Don’t become paranoid. However, we must understand that Satan will always be giving you the option, the temptation, to choose evil again. Especially when you want to choose good, moral, and right things. Nehemiah left his luxury to attend to the needs of his hometown. He lamented in the ruins of Jerusalem and was determined by God to rebuild the city. God wanted this done because the time of exile was almost up and the Israelites needed a place to go. Nehemiah took the challenge and was obedient to God. Immediately, there was opposition.
When you want to follow Christ, do not be fooled. The Devil uses a variety of tactics to keep you from obedience. In Nehemiah, we find different ways the opposition tried to get Nehemiah to quit. He did not. Let’s look at this together.
Ridicule – two men from the region came and began to make fun of what the people were doing. When you want to choose right, there will be those who make fun of you. They will say hurtful things in front of other people trying to embarrass you into falling back into old patterns. Nehemiah prayed.
Threats – these same men threatened them with attack. Threats can be real. Threats can turn into action. Mostly, threats are made to attempt to paralyze you. Nehemiah instructed the people to pray, watch, and work. It is important that you do not ignore the threats, but also do not stop working your plan toward righteous behavior.
Deceit – a letter was sent to Nehemiah asking him to meet in a particular spot. Often, we will be faced with people trying to deceive us. These two wanted to kill Nehemiah. They figured that without him everything would stop. If you become so fixated on doing the right thing that you forget the higher purpose to which you were called, you will soon find yourself tired and guilty once again. Nehemiah did not entertain them. He stay focused on the job at hand. You must stay focused on what God has called you to do and developing your relationship with Him.
Lies – There is not to see, but a lot to hear can be a description of many small towns. The awful part is that when you try to do the right thing those who do not like it will resort to lies. I have found myself in this spot a time or two, haven’t you? People will just lie. Nehemiah denied the allegations and refused to debate the issue with them. Often we try to exonerate ourselves by debating with the opposition. Actually, this just fuels their fire because of the attention-seeking disorder many have. Deny the lie and move on.
Whatever you may be facing, prayer and focus are the answer. Nehemiah prayed. He stay focused. He kept working. If you are not facing a challenge right now, just wait. If you are never facing challenges, you might want to evaluate who you are serving. Your best protection against the enemy is faith in God’s strength and personal integrity.
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.