[Dictionary.com defines persistent this way, lasting or enduring tenaciously: persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement, etc.; persevering. Can you think of time when you lasted longer than you thought you might? Many would report they have persisted through years of opposition, obstacles and discouragement in their marriages to remain faithful to the vows they made to one another. Perhaps you persisted through the hardship of poverty and now your children reap the benefit of a college degree. You may be someone who made it through the drug addiction, and depression because of your persistence to overcome.
Every follower of Jesus understands opposition, obstacles, and discouragement are attached to faith, and it will take persistence as each one is confronted.
Nehemiah understood opposition, obstacles, and discouragement extremely well; he also had incredible insight and understanding on how to endure in spite of them. He had been given divine direction – he had a wall to build. It was going to be difficult. It was going to bring division. It was going to cause opposition to rise up in an effort to thwart God’s plan for Jerusalem but he persisted and eventually the wall was completed. How did he do it? He put a plan in place.
Step one of his plan: Prayer. God was able to give Nehemiah clear vision and focus during every attempt of the enemy to stop the process of reconstruction. When the news came to Nehemiah about the condition of the wall – he prayed. “Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying [constantly] before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:10, AMP). He prayed. He fasted. He interceded for his people, and then he waited until the Lord gave him the go ahead to proceed. It was during this time that the Lord helped him to identify the problem.
When the king saw the gloom in his face the king asked him, ‘What do you request?’ So he again, prayed to the God of heaven (Nehemiah 2:4, AMP). He wasn’t impetuous or impulsive with his thoughts or concerns (of which I’m sure he had many). Instead, before he spoke – he prayed. This allowed him to remain respectful, honor the authority of the king, and gain favor to go and begin rebuilding the wall.
When Sanballet and Tobiah heard the news of the building project they began to mock those doing the work. “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? That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it” (Nehemiah 4:1-3, NLT). Again, Nehemiah prayed. He told God they were being mocked. He asked God to pour the scoffing they were dishing out back onto their own heads. He asked God to put them into captivity. He asked God to see their guilt. He asked God to remember their sins. He didn’t entertain them with snarky comebacks. He asked God to take care of them.
When plans were made to fight against Jerusalem and throw the builders into confusion Nehemiah said, “we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves” (Nehemiah 4:9). They prayed and then they took the necessary action.
He prayed, “Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all I have done for this people” (Nehemiah 5:19, AMP).
He prayed, “But now, [O God,] strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9, AMP).
When betrayed by the prophet Shemaiah who had been hired by the enemy, He prayed, “Remember, O My God, Tobiah and Sanballat in regard to these actions of theirs, and also [remember] the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me” (Nehemiah 6:14, AMP). Spiritual abuse is no small thing.
What could not be done in 87 years was complete in 52 days by Nehemiah and the team God placed around him. “When all our enemies heard about it, and all the [Gentile] nations around us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16, AMP).
There is a work God has for you to accomplish – do you know what it is? Don’t accept the lies from anyone who would like to see you fail. When something feels like a hardship—we can't always abandon ship! Be persistent in your effort to complete the good work He has asked you to build. Will you face opposition? Yes. Will you need to climb over some obstacles? Yes. Will you endure discouraging moments? Yes. Do you pray to the same God Nehemiah prayed to? Yes.
Well then, God wants to hear from you! It's time to #Activ8Her persistence in prayer. You can begin with this: But now, Oh, Lord, strengthen my hands to finish the work You have asked of me.