Free to Be the Me God Wants
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12 NIV).
As much as our human nature detests the uncomfortable, opposition is a good thing. It heightens our awareness and drives us from our complacency. God allows adversity in our lives, not to relish in our discomfort like the twisted mind of an overzealous author, but to enhance the outcome of our lives. For when we look back, we can say, “Not of might, nor by power, but by His spirit” (Zechariah 4:6 KJV).
Such was the case with Nehemiah, an Israelite prophet during the period of the Babylonian captivity. Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer. Definitely overqualified for his position, Nehemiah was also educated and sensitive. He might have better served the king as a scholar or advisor. But instead of grieving about his underappreciated status, he served the king faithfully and won his favor. When Nehemiah became burdened for the condition of his homeland, his countenance changed, and the king noticed even though Nehemiah said nothing. The king permitted Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and equipped him for the task of rebuilding the wall.
Yet, Nehemiah’s challenges had only begun. There were those who viewed a renewed Jerusalem as a threat to acquired power. They hinged a four-pronged attack against Nehemiah’s vision: physical, mental, social, and spiritual, even before the first brick was laid.
“Give up, Nehemiah,” some said. “God has forgotten you” … “God has changed His mind” … “You’ve bitten off a whole lot more than you can chew.”
Nehemiah held fast to what he believed to be God’s will for His people. Instead of taking the negativity to heart, Nehemiah prayed. As he prayed, his confidence increased (Nehemiah 4:6). In spite of false flattery, duplicity, and personal attack, the impossible was achieved in a phenomenal fifty-two days (6:15). Even with today’s technology, the feat was beyond human endeavor. Nehemiah did not put his trust in men, but in God.