Courage Under Pressure
Greetings fellow sojourners! I have included a particularly long segment of Scripture today. In order to receive the fullness of the en-courage-ment it offers I believe the entire piece must be read to garner the benefit. You can do it!
Attempts to Discourage the Builders
“When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that no gap was left in it — though at that time I had not installed the doors in the gates — Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message: “Come, let’s meet together in the villages of the Ono Valley.” But they were planning to harm me. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply. Sanballat sent me this same message a fifth time by his aide, who had an open letter in his hand. In it was written:
It is reported among the nations — and Geshem agrees — that you and the Jews plan to rebel. This is the reason you are building the wall. According to these reports, you are to become their king and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim on your behalf: “There is a king in Judah.” These rumors will be heard by the king. So come, let’s confer together. Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, “They will become discouraged in the work, and it will never be finished.” But now, my God, strengthen me.
Attempts to Intimidate Nehemiah
I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said: Let us meet at the house of God inside the temple. Let us shut the temple doors because they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you tonight! But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can I enter the temple and live? I will not go.” I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me. My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me.
The Wall Completed
The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.” (Nehemiah 6:1-16)
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Let’s take a look at the first paragraph. Nehemiah’s “enemies heard” that he was doing a mighty work of God. They absolutely were under no inclination for him to finish the work so they attempted to discourage him by ‘planning him harm’. Confident only in God, Nehemiah responded to the enemy’s taunts resolutely with, “I am doing a great work” and he did not allow himself to be discouraged. The text tells us the enemy tried four times and each time Nehemiah responded back with the same confidence. Seeing that the first four attempts did not provoke Nehemiah to discouragement, the enemy attempted to send the same message again but this time bolstered with additional fear by suggesting an individual with position and influence agreed that Nehemiah had a personal ambition in mind. The enemy also engaged more of Nehemiah’s senses ~ a written message hand delivered by the enemy’s aid.
The enemy will probe for our self-serving interests and if nothing surfaces, will attempt to convince us we have some anyway. Don’t get discouraged when this happens in your life. View it as an opportunity to reaffirm the truth of the reason for your work. If a circumstance does reveal a self-serving motive, have the courage to extinguish it and thank the Lord for the cleansing! God is for us and will help us repent as well as help us with our heart.
In this example, the enemy gave Nehemiah the suggestion, “You are to become their king” and have even set up the prophets in Jerusalem, “on your behalf” to proclaim yourself as king. He told Nehemiah to, “Come, let’s confer together” in an attempt to persuade him to appear before him and receive counsel by appealing to any self-interest Nehemiah might have. When we take the enemy’s bait and maintain any self-interest all he will do is attempt to prop self up even more.
Did you notice that when the enemy upped his technique so did Nehemiah? Nehemiah rebuked the enemy head-on, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.” He recognized the enemy’s attempt to “intimidate” and “discourage” so that Nehemiah would never finish what he started. Afterwards, Nehemiah asked God to strengthen him. Don’t you know He did! The enemy may or may not be aware of all your efforts but don’t think for a minute God does not see. He sees and will strengthen you with courage when you are under pressure so that you will not fail! Allow Him to minister to your heart and mind like Nehemiah did.
Nehemiah proved his courage in God which allowed him to withstand the external pressure. When Nehemiah’s enemies heard he had completed the task, they knew it had been accomplished by God which not only intimated them but all the surrounding nations. That, beloved, is how big our God is. When you feel the mounting of any internal or external pressure, put your confidence in God. He has proven Himself faithful and will never be found to be anything less. You are much loved.
In His grace,