July 9, 2019
"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." Nehemiah 4:7-8 (NIV)
Today my youngest child is 9 years old. She's vibrant, healthy and a joy-giver. But when she was being created in my womb, she utterly exhausted me!
The doctor put me on partial bedrest for the final few weeks of the pregnancy. I remember feeling useless and discouraged, lying on my bed with abdominal pain. Fatigue became a constant companion.
I was getting ready to birth someone really special ... but it was not without a struggle.
A fight was brewing, just like in today's key verse.
Nehemiah knew what it was like to stand up and fight. He traveled more than 1,000 miles with the permission of his boss, the king of Persia, to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, the city of his forefathers. This was important work, as the wall was Jerusalem's first line of defense.
But Nehemiah's restoration work did not go unopposed.
His first enemies are introduced in Nehemiah 2:19a, "But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us" (NIV). In today's key verse, we see this intimidating threesome joined by more people: the Arabs, Ammonites and the people of Ashdod. Nehemiah's progress on rebuilding the wall has made them "very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it" (4:7b-8).
You might not know a Sanballat, Tobiah or Geshem, but like me, maybe you've met some other naysayers - like discouragement, fatigue and fear. These are a few of the enemies of restoration and rebuilding.
Discouragement says, "Your husband will never change. He never notices the nice things you do for him."
Fatigue says, "You're so tired. You can't keep this up. You should give up."
And fear says, "Who do you think you are? You're not qualified to do this work."
What was Nehemiah's response to his enemies of restoration? Prayer. And a plan: "But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat" (Nehemiah 4:9). He prayed to the mighty God of heaven, and he put a plan in place to deal with his enemies.
Nehemiah didn't just face opposition from the outside; he faced opposition on the inside, too, from his fellow Jewish people. Verse 4:10 says, "Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.'"
Do you hear the discouragement, fatigue and fear reverberating in that verse?
Like a great battle cry or a rousing locker room speech before a championship game, Nehemiah stands up and boldly encourages the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes" (4:14b).
With the battle cry "Our God will fight for us!" in their hearts and on their lips, they worked to rebuild the wall from the first light of dawn until the stars came out. Some 52 days later, the wall was completed. No amount of opposition could stop the work of God!
My weeks of partial bedrest ended when I had a beautiful 7-pound baby girl. My physical health was restored. God may be restoring your physical or emotional health, your marriage, your relationship with your adult children or a friend, your work aspirations or your finances. It could even be a long battle with no end in sight. The enemies of restoration will come, but remember the Lord - who is great and awesome - and fight!
Heavenly Father, thank You that my life is a restoration work in progress. Thank You for restoring my soul. I find rest and peace in You. I know You protect me from discouragement, fatigue and fear. Complete the work You have started in me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Nehemiah 6:16, "When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God." (NIV)
Nehemiah 13:14, "Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services." (NIV)
Parenting can feel like a losing battle with many enemies threatening your home. In Arlene Pellicane's book, Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What's Right, find real help for real problems facing every parent. Pick up a copy today!
Did you know Proverbs 31 Ministries has a podcast? New episodes are released twice a month as we dive into topics that deepen your faith, help you grow in your calling and guide you through different seasons of life. Listen and subscribe today!
Could you use a work of restoration in your family? Visit Arlene's website to read and declare the "Parents Rising Manifesto" which begins, "I am a thoughtful, decisive, honorable, hardworking parent who is committed to raising children who love God, respect authority, and value what's right …"
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What's God restoring in your life right now? What enemies are opposing this restoration? We'd love to hear from you in our comments!
What will be lost if you give up? What will be gained if you trust God and keep showing up, being faithful to the process of restoration?
© 2019 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.