“Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?’ Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!’ Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.
“So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
“But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” Nehemiah 4:1-9
Feeble Jews, weak and unable. Impossible task. Crazy plan, self-serving motives for their nonexistent god. Can’t they see they’re defeated? Meaningless effort. Unreasonable expectations. Shoddy work. How did Nehemiah stand this onslaught to his God-given role and calling?
He saw the taunts for what they were and deflected them with prayer. Despised and ridiculed, they were the Lord’s and on His errand. God was responsible for their protection, and their retribution. He would contend with those who contended with His children. Nehemiah also disarmed them with perseverance. They’d been called to an important work, and it would go on because their Master was faithful. They would not be discouraged or dissuaded from keeping on. (Isaiah 49:25)
Enemy voices pelt from without and within, festering with condescension, cruelty, and criticism. In the flesh, we slide into self-doubt, or condemnation, and wonder whether we heard the initial call correctly. Should it be this hard? What if these accusations are true? Is this really fruitless work? Will I fail? Why is it so hard? But God gives Nehemiah to cheer us on, to come alongside us as model and comrade.
Whatever our task at building or repair, the enemy will attempt to undermine God’s work. What taunts pester? What doubts loiter and tease to undo our resolve? Our Lord is great and awesome, much bigger than our adversaries, far stronger than any threats. Secure in Him we can keep on! Stay focused, and leave the enemy to the Lord’s dealing. (Nehemiah 4:14,15-21)
Father, fix in me a mind to work as You call and lead. Let me not be deterred by worldly distraction, but remain devoted to Your bidding. May I be careful to disarm the enemy so I can finish Your business to Your glory. (John 17:4)