No sooner had the Jews “strengthened their hands for the good work,” than opposition arose. When people began to hear of the rebuilding effort, they ridiculed Nehemiah and the Jews. Three men particularly—Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem—began to mock and make fun of them. “They laughed us to scorn and despised us and said, What is this thing you are doing?” (Nehemiah 2:19). I can remember a similar experience. Many years ago I began a job and two people continued to tell me that I wouldn’t last two days on the job. I didn’t listen to them nor did I believe them and I worked on this particular job for over 12 years. There were other experiences in my life that were extremely difficult for me, but I did my best to stand through the storm of disapproval. I did everything I could to stay as close to God as possible through studying His Word, praying, and spending time in His presence. Even in the midst of being misunderstood, I kept working with God to overcome my problems and build a healthy self-image through learning about His love and mercy. By doing this, I was building walls of protection. I was putting bricks in my wall as diligently as I could, but the enemy continued to fight against me.
Have you ever been trying as hard as you could to do what was right but felt that the storm raged even stronger? I have attended three conferences with Joyce Meyer, Anne Lotz Graham and Dr. Sandra Kennedy. Joyce mentioned how people responded to her when she received God’s call on her life. Many people laughed at her and said, “What do you think you are doing?” She worked to improve her attitudes and her marriage and her relationships with her children. Joyce mentioned a specific situation that was especially difficult for her. One day, someone she considered a friend walked up to her and said, “Joyce, someone told me you believe God is going to give you one of the largest ministries run by a woman in the whole country. Did you say that?” Joyce responded, “Yes, I really believe God spoke that to me.” This woman snickered and said, “Well, to tell you the truth, some of us have been talking about that, and we just think that is impossible with your personality.”
Hearing such comments is like being in the middle of a violent storm with no protection. I can imagine Joyce felt as Nehemiah must have felt when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem said to him, between bursts of laughter: “What on earth are you doing? You can’t do that!”
Still many people cannot endorse Anne Graham Lotz’s anointed ministry. In fact, when she stood to address a group of conservative pastors at a 1998 conference, many of them literally turned their backs on her—and turned their chairs around as well. Conservative ministers could not submit themselves to a woman preacher by facing her. On Friday night March 09, I listened to Dr. Sandra Kennedy as she mentioned that she was not a woman preacher. Her outside shell was a woman but inside she is a spirit. Galatians 3:28 informs us that we are neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
Nehemiah stood firm and demonstrated the spirit of a conqueror when he said, “The God of heaven will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 2:20).
When the enemy comes against you, you also have to say, “You have no right here. You can have no portion of me, nor can you hinder God’s will for my life!” If you have given your life to Jesus Christ, you belong to Him, not to the devil. You simply have to remind him of that fact and resist him. You do not have to raise your voice or be dramatic, but you do need to use your authority in Christ and say: “No way, devil. You are not going to stop me. I will not give up on this. No matter what you throw at me. I will not give up on this. No matter what you throw at me, I will not quit!”
I remember at Joyce’s Conference she mentioned that she refused to quit and eventually the woman who told her and her friends thought it was impossible for Joyce to succeed ended up working for her. God always vindicates us if we just keep doing what He tells us to do. Don’t ever give up just because someone tells you that you can’t succeed.
To stand against the enemy in the storms of life, we really must be determined. Sometimes we simply give up too easily. We get a little bit discouraged, or the “Sanballats” of life hurt or feelings, and we begin to cave under the pressure Never forget that, according to God’s Word, you are more than a conqueror (see Romans 8:37). Next week: “Not Everyone Likes Progress.”
By faith I keep pressing on!