Sandy Ballot filled with fury when the gossip grapevine informed her that the deacon board approved a building proposal to expand the church’s nursery and education space. The education committee, led by the youth pastor, had submitted plans months ago to respond to the ongoing space crisis experienced every Sunday and Wednesday. Peace Community Church was enjoying an influx of young families but not everyone celebrated the growth.
Sandy called her best friend, Doris Tobias, to share the sour grapes. “What can they be thinking of?” she raged to Doris. “My great grandfather dug out the basement for that education wing and it’s been good enough for four generations of Ballot children! Nothing’s good enough for young people nowadays. We don’t know anything about some of these new ones! Sam Aria said he heard several of them never even went to church before! There’s no possibility they’ll find brick to match our original. You can’t even find that quality anymore, you know.”
“Oh, I know it, I know it,” chimed in Doris. “And did you hear, they’re not even using Sam’s construction company to do the work? One of those new people submitted a lower bid and the deacons took that instead. Disgraceful! Three generations of Aria’s in this church! The new stuff is going to be tacky and will probably come down around our ears, then they’ll all be sorry!”
Eventually, both ladies expressed all their “prayer concerns,” then hung up to make the next calls in the prayer chain.
Does this story sound familiar in any way? It’s actually an ancient one which I revised. Here’s the original from Nehemiah 4.
“Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap-and charred ones at that? Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!” Nehemiah 4:1-3 NLT
I used to think that opposition always meant I was doing something wrong in my ministry or classroom. Sometimes I was. Most of the time, though, opposition comes to anyone determined to be part of the forward company in God’s kingdom. In fact, it’s often a confirmation that you are moving in the right direction.
It’s easy to become offended and angered by the human pawns Satan uses in his opposition campaigns. Read Nehemiah and discover that Sanballat and Tobias’ intentions went far beyond mere words. Don’t waste your passions and emotions on the surface battle. Hunker down in your prayer closet and pour your energy into the real battlefield, in the supernatural realm. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NLT
I know it’s so tough not to react when someone in the flesh is up in your face. Some of you reading this are probably mired right now in an ongoing situation of intense opposition. In one school I taught in, students cussed me out to my face with words I’d never even heard before! One woman actually told my husband she wished he would drop dead. I could list numerous stories from friends and family members of intense, unrelenting opposition to their ministries. Consider the beatings and jail terms that Paul endured from people who opposed him.
You can run from opposition, you surely can, but it is highly unlikely you will fulfill your God-given destiny. I’ve met folks over the years who walked away from God’s plan because they didn’t have strategies for overcoming and plowing through opposition and they simply couldn’t take it anymore. This breaks my heart. God makes tables of rich, spiritual food for us in the wilderness. He finds quiet waters for us to rest by so He can restore our souls but these things are only for the sheep that stay close to the shepherd.
In my next post we’ll look at Nehemiah and his strategies some more. Till then, be comforted weary souls. A great cloud of witnesses cheers you on from the heavenlies. The full power of the Trinity is on your side. Jesus is interceding for you right now. Take heart! You can survive and even thrive amidst opposition!