Monday, May 12, 2014

Where is God?

We are working hard at doing right things and someone criticizes or challenges or uses power moves to intimidate or try to stop us.  And what do we do in response?

Read Nehemiah 6.  Nehemiah was facing exactly that.  He was on a God-sized, God-ordained mission to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem.  It was hard work.  He organized the people in such a way that they were rebuilding their familial homes.  They had skin in the game.  Their spirits were being lifted.  There was far more going on than the moving of stones and mortar.  The people were raising their eyes toward the Lord as well.

Great projects attract opposition.  And Nehemiah finds local Arab neighbors trying to stop him.  They invite him to a meeting to have a little talk about their concerns.  But Nehemiah knew they were scheming to kill him, so he told them he was busy with a great project and could not come down.  They ramp it up by threatening to send a false report back to the king that Nehemiah and the Jews are planning a revolt.  Its a lie.  And Nehemiah responds to them that they are just making a story up in their heads.  Finally they work in alliance with two false prophets to trap Nehemiah in fear or to discredit him before the people.  He had opposition from those outside and those closer to him. In fact the nobles of Judah were trying to convince Nehemiah that Tobiah, one of his detractors, was a good man because his son had married into one of their families.  Complicated.

Please note what Nehemiah did.  We can learn much.  I have watched as those who claim Christ return fire using the same weapons as their opponents.  Yet we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 10:

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Nehemiah does just that. He uses our weapons. He succinctly and respectfully and calmly addresses the challenges to the people who make them. Second, he stays focused on his mission. And finally, he speaks to the Lord about them rather to launch a verbal campaign about them to other people.

He prays: But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

And then:14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me.

When I have had times that I began to take a worldly approach to addressing opposition, I had to ask myself the question, "Where is God?" Not that I was questioning if God was abandoning me but rather how do my actions reflect my trust and hope in the Lord?  And I had to repent. And I spoke to the Lord rather than to others.  It was amazing to watch the Lord at work.

When tempted to spew vitriol at people who are hurting us or to counter attack using the same worldly approach taken against us, I urge us all to ask the question, "Where is God?" The bottom line is that we will have to answer that question before Him one day for every word and action we have done.

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