In this story, Nehemiah and the Jewish people were confronted with discouraging opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah in the form of mocking:
“What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
“Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” (v1-3)
Remember our lesson from the Garden of Eden about the doubts the snake put into Eve’s head? This is the same thing. They were trying to create despondency by insinuating that this task was too big to take on and that it would need a miracle because they are so feeble so it wouldn’t be easy.
Yes, the Jews were frail and they did not have the best tools to work with. That’s how the enemy uses truth to twist it. It is typical of the enemy’s attack- it usually appears that the thoughts he’s putting into your head have some truth to it! So we become completely focused on that “truth” instead of the truth of God’s Word. When I suffered with hypochondria, it was so strong that I remember when I would think about a pain in my elbow for example, the pain would immediately come onto that very spot. The mind is a powerful but very dangerous thing! So, yes you may have a pain/symptom here and there- because your mind has caused it. So therefore, it presents itself as fact. But it’s not! Yet it becomes the thing you focus on. I have come to realise that hypochondria is the enemy’s perfect war- doubt and discouragement are the antithesis of faith. Faith believes and focuses on the truth and promises of God’s Word, while doubt immediately believes the worst.
As the wall progressively got built and the gaps started closing, guess what- the threat of enemy attacks increased! Their progress made the enemies angry. It is difficult to realise it at the time, but when you are improving and making progress, you are going to get attacked. You may wake up one morning with new fear. It’s just the enemy’s job description. Take it as motivation. It’s his job to keep you down, that’s just the way it is. He will never change – your mind has to. Be prepared, stand your ground and continue to fight it off.
Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him ~Hebrews 10:38
Sanballat and Tobiah did not actually attack if you read on- they thought their threats would be enough to sway the Jews. Why? Because we tend to perceive, pray and hear the Word differently under discouragement than we do under faith. That’s exactly what hypochondria is- Satan is using this fear against God’s children because it puts us into a state of paralysis. Once he has you paralysed, he’s won. That’s all he needs. He doesn’t actually need you to get sick- only to be terrified at the thought of it.
How did Nehemiah handle it? Did he worry and freak out? Did he debate or hesitate and dwell on the threats about ‘what ifs’ and ‘what might happen’? No.
“Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.” ~Nehemiah 4:4
He took it to God in prayer. This shows us that prayer was the first option for him, not the last resort. This is the best way we can show God that we rely on Him. Please note – the answer to prayer did not make a difference in the enemies- it made a difference in the people of God:
“So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” ~ Neh 4:6
God gave them a mind to work- that is a blessing. Nothing can be accomplished unless we come together with God with a mind to work against the problem.
In my situation that’s what God did for me – He created a change in my mind-set. I had read about Jehoshaphat and took it as pure truth. It was very simple for me. I saw it as my answer, as simple as the sun gives us light. I was determined by all means to get over it. He gave me a mind to persevere even though I still felt a few “symptoms” for the next 4 days. Then it was gone.
This week, encourage your spirit. Ask for God to give you the strength and to align your thinking and mind-set with His against this. Stand up to the doubt and discouragement and like Nehemiah declare, “Look at it God’s way, stay at the job”