“Your articles are horrible.”
Although the call was more than ten years ago, I remember it well because it was so mean. A magazine had just published a series of articles I wrote about a fledgling industry. I was getting a lot of encouraging feedback. Then, in the middle of the good, came this phone call.
As it turned out, a struggling public relations professional with a temper—who was mad I hadn’t interviewed his client—made the call. His client didn’t fit my employer’s needs. Even though I knew I had done the right thing, the call stung. Criticism in any shape or form is difficult to handle, especially if it seems unjust.
We can learn a lot about unfair opposition from Nehemiah. He was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes during the time of the Jewish exile. While he was interred far away in the ancient city of Susa, news came to him about his homeland. Jerusalem’s walls and gates were in ruins.
Nehemiah fasted and prayed to the Lord, beseeching Him for favor with the Persian king. He then waited for the right opportunity to approach the throne. He asked for time off to return to Jerusalem, for accommodations for safe passage, and for lumber to complete the wall rebuilding project. “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests (2:8).”
Just because the Lord ordains our work doesn’t mean it will be stress free. Before the work started, three men vocally opposed Nehemiah—accusing him of inciting rebellion. The opposition continued throughout the project. Naysayers rose up from the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod, but Nehemiah comforted himself and his workers: “The Lord will fight for us” (4:20). With God’s help, the wall was completed in fifty-two days.
Sometimes a godly calling or passion grows dim because of opposition. We take the critics to heart or perhaps the work feels more challenging or less rewarding than expected.
If you are discouraged today, let Nehemiah’s story encourage you to keep pressing forward. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
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