“Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.” Nehemiah 4:14
In the book of Nehemiah, we read about the building of the wall in Jerusalem, Judah’s capital city. God prospered Nehemiah by putting him in the position of the king’s cup bearer and as a result of his favor with the king, he is granted whatever he needs to ensure Jerusalem’s wall is finished. Although he flourished, he also faced much opposition.
People weren’t keen to the idea of a resurrected Jerusalem so they insulted, intimidated, and even threatened the workers as they built this wall. They continued their labor, though progress greatly depreciated—half of the crew was required to stand guard while the other half worked. Not only was this a substantial setback, I imagine it would have been deeply discouraging. We know that God was with them. We know that God was sovereign over their situation. So why didn’t he give them favor in their opposers eyes as he had in the eyes of the king?
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
A wall is great, but a wall is just a wall. It will pass away (Matthew 24:35). God was building more than a wall; he was building a child-like faith in his people. The reality is: a faithless people and a completed wall would never please God. While Nehemiah and the Israelites worked to build the wall, God was working to cultivate the hearts of his people to depend on him alone. And in their working, fear, and opposition, they remembered the Lord and his greatness (Nehemiah 4:14). By this they persevered.
Faith is a great gift from God—the assurance of things hoped for and the confidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). It is in the fires of affliction and suffering that we are moved to trust in the unseen. It is amid opposition that we learn to walk by faith and not by sight. God refines and strengthens our faith through the fire, the faith in which he considers more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7). This faith, unlike the wall, is eternal and it is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25-27).
Faith is worth the fight. And it is only by our faith that we receive our reward from God (Hebrews 11:2). So I ask: If God took a wall and a city from ruins to restoration, how much more will he restore his people? From broken, ruined, and wasted to restored, renewed, and reconciled. This is the great heart of our God. And when this is the God of our faith, the wall is just a wall, and a means to something much more valuable.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds.” James 1:2
God is building your faith.