Why are we often surprised or caught off guard when we come up against opposition in our lives? The bible is very clear on that topic. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Pet. 4:12)
Opposition isn’t just possible, it’s inevitable. Opposition isn’t new. It isn’t strange. It’s normal. Many of the ways we Christians respond to opposition are far from ideal. We respond to opposition with that toxic blend of fear and anger, when we should respond with grace and truth. The words “outrage” and “courage” both have the word “rage” in them. Yet they’re totally different attitudes.
Nehemiah experienced opposition as the wall was getting built but that did not stop him from continuing to build.
“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. “ -Nehemiah 4:6-9
Nehemiah moved ahead. He did not let the opposition from his enemies stop the building of the wall. He decided to pray and fight. Sometimes God is answering our prayer through our actions. We must faithfully move forward as we pray- even if the situation isn’t working out how we planned it would, or our prayers aren’t answered the way we want- in the time we want them to be answered. We can even go as far as to say; If God doesn’t take care of us in the way we want, then we say we aren’t going to follow HIM. We stomp around like toddlers who aren’t getting their way. If we would just realize that our Father cares for us and loves us so much and what might not feel good in the moment, He will use it for our good and for His glory. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8&9
Our enemy, Satan, is our biggest oppose and He seeks to kill and destroy us and will try anyway he can to do that. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. He is the father of lies, he is our tempter, he disguises himself as an angel, he is a murderer, and our destroyer. Satan is everything Jesus is not. He whispers lies to us, telling us we aren’t good enough and he tempts us in every way he knows how.
When we face opposition, it is an opportunity to trust God. Opposition will try to get you off track. We can have internal opposition of fear, anxieties, and laziness and external opposition such as relationships, and sicknesses. If you are still in a mindset of brokenness, we can seem to be an easy target to our enemy. But we don’t have to be! We can stand firm in our faith and His promises!
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” - Nehemiah 4:14
Darkness has never stopped the dawn! Nehemiah knew that he had to act and he had to fight. He knew when we are following God’s call we will always experience His victory. We have every reason to hope that God “will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish” us. We have every reason to anticipate our eternal glory in Christ. Jesus is coming back! So when the night seems long, remember that hope and joy comes in the morning, and let’s fight the good fight!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33