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  • Writer's pictureTodd

Fulfilling God’s Mission in the Face of Resistance (Nehemiah 4)

When you step into the calling God has placed on your life, it won't be long before you face resistance. Sometimes this resistance comes from people who criticize and undermine your efforts. Other times, it's the enemy, the devil, aiming to shake your confidence and derail your mission. In Nehemiah 4, we see a masterclass on how to stay focused and faithful amidst opposition.

Facing Resistance

Ever wonder how you should respond when people try to thwart God’s mission or discourage you? The problem is too many followers of Jesus aren't equipped to handle challenges, often leading them to plateau or abandon their faith. God wants us to be prepared for these challenges, and Nehemiah shows us how.

How Nehemiah Equips Us for the Battle

1. Opposition Will Arise, and the Enemy’s Primary Weapons Are Lies (4:1-3)

Nehemiah faced ridicule from Sanballat and Tobiah, who mocked the Jews' efforts. Their goal was to undermine their faith in God, to make them doubt and lose confidence. But Nehemiah knew the truth about God’s faithfulness. We must learn to identify and reject the enemy’s lies. Remember 1 Peter 5:8-9: the devil prowls like a roaring lion. Resist him by standing firm in your faith, replacing lies with the truth.

We often encounter people whose words aim to discourage and diminish the work of God in us. Whether it's unfair criticism or subtle doubts, these lies can shake our confidence. Recognizing and countering these lies with God's truth is vital.

2. Pray and Obey (4:4-5)

When criticized, Nehemiah’s default response was prayer. Instead of reacting defensively, he brought his raw emotions to God. Prayer should be our instinctive response to conflict. The Psalms are full of examples where David brings his raw honesty to God. In Psalm 31, David cries out, “Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief” (verses 9-10). Yet, he also declares, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands” (verses 14-15). Nehemiah knew that success came from God’s hands, not his own. So he gave it all to God, and walked in faith.

Our instinct might be to react defensively or lash out when faced with adversity. But Nehemiah shows us a different path: pray earnestly and seek God’s guidance. By bringing our struggles to God and obeying His direction, we navigate challenges with divine wisdom and strength.

3. Your Response to Adversity Is Contagious(4:6-9)

Our reactions to challenges affect those around us. Nehemiah’s confidence in God led to renewed determination among the people. Joshua 1:9 says, "Be strong and courageous...for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Our confidence in the Lord can inspire and unify others. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

This reminds me of my toddler daughter. When she falls, she looks at us to see how to react. If I respond dramatically, she cries. But if I stay calm and speak courageous words over her, she dusts herself off and continues on. Similarly, our faith and calm assurance in God’s power can positively influence those around us. People are watching to how to react to opposition. God can use adversity for us to be a witness to others, displaying a hope and peace that only comes from Jesus.

4. He Who Entrusted Us with the Mission Will Also Fight for Us(4:10-21)

When opposition intensified, Nehemiah reminded the people that God would fight for them. This echoes Moses’ words to Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:14). God is faithful and fights for those He calls.

God doesn't call us to a mission without equipping us for the battles we will face. Nehemiah’s confidence came from knowing that God was on their side, fighting for them. We too can rest assured that God, who calls us, will empower and protect us in our endeavors.

5. God Uses Trials to Shape Us into a Resilient and Mature Family (4:15-23)

Nehemiah’s people became more focused and motivated to build well because of the resistance they faced. God uses trials to refine us and make us stronger. Think about Joseph in Genesis 50:20. His brothers sold him into slavery, intending to harm him. But Joseph, looking back on his life, says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God takes what the enemy means for evil and turns it for good.

Resistance is not just an obstacle; it’s a catalyst for growth. Nehemiah’s story shows that opposition strengthened the resolve and unity of the people. In our lives, God can use challenges to build our character, deepen our faith, and prepare us for greater purposes. James 1:2-4 teaches us that trials test our faith and produce perseverance, making us mature and complete.

In the face of resistance, whether from people or the enemy, we can stand firm, knowing that God is with us and will fight for us. Trials are not just obstacles; they are opportunities for growth and refinement. Let's embrace these challenges with faith and confidence in God’s plan.

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