I’m reading Nehemiah {I love this book because I wrote a study for Ezra and Nehemiah so various memories of scripture and the people I studied with come to mind}. This morning I was in Nehemiah 6 where the wall is almost finished being rebuilt and Sanballat and Tobiah show up…again. If this were a melodrama, we’d all boo, hiss, and stomp our feet every time we hear their names; those guys up to no good.

This time they ask Nehemiah to meet them out on a plain. Knowing they intended to do him harm, he declines.

Four times.

Four times?!

Have you ever been focused on a project that is almost done and been repeatedly interrupted? Sure you have. It’s gets old to say, “I have answered your question, now leave me alone.” Wearing down comes slowly, request by request.

Not likely the wall Nehemiah worked on … since it’s in Beijing!

Sanballat and Tobiah were on a mission, so when that tactic didn’t work, they upped the anti and sent an open letter {meaning that everyone one read it!} saying in essence that the Israelites were rebuilding the wall because they wanted to reinstate a king. When in doubt, make it political! Sound familiar? Of course, things haven’t changed all that much and there are only so many tricks in a trick book.

Nehemiah knew that Sanballat and Tobiah were trying to frighten them, thinking their hands would get too weak and they’d give up. “But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.'”

Not, “now send that peaky Sanballat and Tobiah away!” or “Expose their lie!” But strengthen me. Help me, help us be able to deal with what we need to deal with, help us not to give up.

Note that strengthening his hands didn’t mean that all the hard things would come to an end and as if to make that point, there were more tricks in the bag. S and T got another guy to invite Nehemiah into his home and advised that guy to do something that would lead Nehemiah to sin and give him a bad name so others could taunt him. {At this point Nehemiah does ask God to remember all the bad things S and T had done!}

Interruptions, politics (in your family, your job, your church, your country), manipulations, there is nothing new under the sun if you are involved in significant projects. I needed that reminder. How about you?

Leave A Comment

  1. Amy F. September 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Indeed! Much needed, esp. today! :)

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      Amy September 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      good to know I’m not alone :)

  2. Mark Allman September 18, 2012 at 2:04 am - Reply

    I would say that our prayer most often is that the hardship be removed. I do think we should rethink that. I think it is ok to ask that but I do think we do need to realize that that might not happen and that we need to ask God for more strength or maybe just more commitment to deal with the issue.

    Jesus did not ask to have an hardship removed very often. The time he did in Luke 22 it was not as we well know but it does say he was strengthened!

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      Amy September 18, 2012 at 7:43 am - Reply

      Mark, so true! So true. Thanks for adding that passage from Luke. Amy

  3. Amy M September 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. Well timed.

    Thank you.

  4. Receiving Bad News | YOU DECIDE September 19, 2012 at 3:06 am - Reply

    […] In which I am reminded my hand needs {and can be} strengthened (messymiddle.com) […]

  5. Shelly Miller September 19, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Yep, good reminder indeed. Most of us in ministry can relate. Love the story of Nehemiah, he inspires me.

  6. Loren Pinilis September 20, 2012 at 2:27 am - Reply

    That verse has a lot of meaning to me. A few years ago, my infant son was having seizures. (He’s fine now – just had a low iron count!) Around that time, I was going to participate in a foreign missions trip to Mongolia. I was scared of leaving my wife and kid alone, even though by that point my son had gone months without a seizure. Well, about 30 days before leaving he had a mini-seizure and I was flipping out. Then I was reading this verse and the idea of the enemy trying to scare us just became so real to me.
    He strengthened my hands.

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