“When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” Nehemiah 2:10
A fellow Pastor friend of mine once observed that during the course of nearly every evangelistic initiative he’d ever been a part of there had been some kind of major or semi-major catastrophe occur. Hearing him say this caused me to pay attention as events have unfolded in my own ministry and I too have observed that trouble seems to attend you when you set out to win souls to Christ and expand the kingdom of God.
One thing that should be noted is that sinful people, and that’s all of us, are doing bad things all the time and sometimes those bad things result in some very bad consequences. Because of this universal reality regarding human nature we can always expect some degree of difficulty no matter what we’re doing. That being said, most difficulties and challenges we encounter day to day, week to week, fall inside a range of events that we would consider ordinary or common. But when it comes to doing God’s work of evangelism it seems as if someone working behind the scenes is exercising more than the usual creativity and intentionality in an effort to to turn the lives of the people involved upside down.
The reason why it seems that way is because there is somebody working to upset things.
Nehemiah, as he gets to Jerusalem, becomes the focus of some men who have a vested interest in keeping the Jewish people unsettled and oppressed. We will see as the story unfolds the different strategies they use to disrupt Nehemiah in doing God’s work.
But there’s another involved that’s never mentioned in Nehemiah’s narrative. Someone whose hands are always dirty when it comes to mucking up the works of our service to God.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
When you work for God can count on the devil to do what he can to disrupt and disturb.
The Pastor that warned us that trouble would attend our efforts to serve God did so to impress on us the need for unfaltering dedication to prioritizing time in prayer. Nehemiah was never thrown off balance by the attacks of Israel’s enemies because in everything he was always first in prayer and only after that did he act.
As children of God we need to expect trouble and spend much time in prayer.