Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 10: Focused, Part Two

Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way for the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; in which was written, “It is reported among the Gentiles and Gashmu says that you and the Jews are thinking of rebelling, and this is why you are building the wall, so that you may be their king, according to these words. And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim you at Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah,’ and now it shall be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.”

Then I sent to him, saying, “There are no such things done as you say, but you are inventing them out of your own heart.” For they all made us afraid, saying, “Their hands shall be weakened from the work, so that it shall not be done.” Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. (Neh. 6:3-9)

Sometimes it seems like we overcome a temptation only to be rewarded with a full-fledged assault. When the devil failed to trap Nehemiah with craftiness he moved on to a more direct approach – causing panic among the Jews through outright lies about the project and about Nehemiah himself. Would Sanballat really spread lies as far as the king? What would the king do?

In any “great work” there can come moments of alarm. People may misunderstand what we are doing; they may think we are seeking to make a name for ourselves. They may be envious or even angry, as Nehemiah’s enemies were, when someone steps forward to promote the interests of Christ’s Church. All this can cause our faith to waver – we begin listen to our fears and our minds begin racing with frightful possibilities.

How did Nehemiah respond? Undoubtedly, he must have reminded people of how God had led them this far. They stayed focused on the goal despite their fears and instead of giving in to panic they asked God to “strengthen their hands.”

God, give me courage when things look tough. On those days when we are tempted to think You have forgotten about Your own project in this world, strengthen our hands instead!

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