READ: Nehemiah 3-4
THINK: Sir Winston Churchill once remarked, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” That’s a quote worth memorizing and internalizing for anyone with a vision to see the brokenness of this world change. I think it is tempting for all of us to recoil or shrink in the face of opposition. And when we face resistance of any kind, it’s easy to believe that means we are doing something wrong. It’s easy to stop what we’re doing and try to appease those who critique us. But there is a critically important lesson we all need to learn, and it’s one that Nehemiah learned in this passage: you have a spiritual enemy who wants to destroy you and stop you from accomplishing anything for God in this world.
The Bible says that our enemy, the Devil, is on a mission to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to the heart of God. There is even a verse that says that he prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. We are engaged in spiritual warfare and that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of darkness in this broken world. Which means, any time we want to make a difference, any time we want to heal something that is broken, any time we want to shine a light in the darkness, we are going to face opposition.
And it’s super tempting, when we face opposition, to get frustrated and to think that we must be doing something wrong because if we were doing things right then God would get rid of all the opposition and make things easy for us. But the reality is that world-changers don’t face opposition because they are doing something wrong; they face opposition because they are doing something right!
If we’re not doing anything significant, if we aren’t pursuing things that really matter, if we’re just wasting our lives away blending in with the crowd and accomplishing absolutely nothing significant then we don’t face opposition because nobody pays attention to us. Our spiritual enemy doesn’t need to waste time on us because we’re not doing anything. The world and the people in it who might oppose change – all of the forces that desperately try to get us to conform and to live out the status quo without fighting for something more and something better – won’t oppose us because we just accept it. We accept the brokenness and the darkness, the hatred and the pain, and do nothing to stop it because we just wanna blend in. But the simple fact is this: Any time you stand up and try to change things – any time you let God break your heart for what breaks his and then say, “This is not okay. Somebody has got to do something and it might as well be me” then you’ll face opposition along the way.
Nehemiah faced both internal and external opposition. He was criticized. And instead of getting defensive about it or feeling insecure he just took it to God and got on with his work. And no doubt, Nehemiah and those with him struggled with feelings of fear and inadequacy. But again, in Nehemiah 4:14, we find him entrusting this to God and refusing to let anything stop him from the great task to which God had called him. He says, remember how awesome God is! If God is for us, who can be against us. And he gets to work! This is an incredible example for all of us.
God is calling us to change the world. It is broken and dark and messed up, but he isn’t about to just leave it that way. God wants to heal the world and set things right and he is asking us to be his hands and his feet! We can conform to the pressure of society to live boring lives that conform and that make no difference, or we can let God break our hearts for the things that break his and then boldly declare – this is not right, somebody has to do something and it may as well be me – and then we can change the world! Make no mistake, because of the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are the change the world is desperate for. And it will never be simple or easy and we will always face discouragement along the way – but if we remember to trust God and turn to him, then he’ll give us the strength to overcome!
Remember, even though it’s hard to deal with opposition, facing opposition for God doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. It means you’re doing something right. Anybody who has ever had the courage to stand for something at some point in their lives has faced opposition.
PRAY: Ask God what it is in your world that he wants to use you to change. Confess your doubts, fears, and discouragements to him. Commit yourself to trusting him, and pray that he’ll give you the strength to do all that he has called you to do.