When Favor Brings Opposition

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

 But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9 NIV

 I used to believe that God’s favor meant ease. Then I felt the touch of God’s favor.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade following Jesus for anything. I want to walk in the steps of the God who goes before and experience His presence. And at times I am astounded as I witness His unmistakable hand making the impossible possible.

Yet there are other moments along the journey when difficulties arise that sap my strength. Doubt surfaces, bringing with it a lingering question: Have I stepped out of God’s favor?

Have you ever been there? Have you stepped out in faith, following a prompting God stirred in your heart, only to discover that opposition and difficulty seem to overshadow the favor you thought God had given?

If you have, you’re not alone. Scripture is full of stories of faith heroes that clearly possessed God’s favor yet faced terrible opposition. Nehemiah is one of those heroes.

His story begins with a stirring in his heart for the Jewish remnant returning to Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. He had been told,

Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah poured out his burden before the Lord, confessing the sins of the people and recalling God’s covenant promises. He finished with these words,

“Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king. Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah needed the favor of the king he served in order to return to Jerusalem and fulfill his calling to rebuild the city walls. When the time came to seek that favor, Scripture tells us he “was very much afraid” (Nehemiah 2:2). He had reason to be. The king did not serve Nehemiah’s God and had no reason to want to help Israel—or to release Nehemiah from three years of service to complete the project.

Yet after seeking the Lord, Nehemiah stepped out in faith and asked the king for permission to go. But he didn’t just ask for time off. He asked for letters giving him safe travel and for King Artaxerxes himself to provide materials for the project. Nehemiah should certainly have been executed for such a request, and yet Nehemiah 2:8 reveals,

And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.

 When God’s favor rests upon the head of His own, even a pagan king bows down.

And so Nehemiah set out for Jerusalem—papers in hand—accompanied by army officers and cavalry sent by the king.

Unfortunately, others aren’t always happy to see God’s kingdom advance. As soon as Nehemiah and the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, men from surrounding communities who feared Israel regaining strength began to mock and ridicule them.

Still, they worked to rebuild the wall, crying out to God, “Hear us, our God, for we are despised” (Nehemiah 4:4). They managed to rebuild until the wall reached half its height.

Then their opponents plotted to fight against them, so the people prayed to God and posted a guard day and night to meet the threat. Half of the men worked while the others kept watch armed with weapons. Supply transporters even worked with one hand and carried weapons in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). Still, the work progressed.

Then Nehemiah began to help the poor, bringing further opposition. This time they schemed to bring harm to God’s servant another way. They drafted a letter accusing Nehemiah of trying to incite a revolt and proclaim himself king. Now we come to our opening Scripture,

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

 But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

And God did.

So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two daysWhen all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16

God’s favor rested upon Nehemiah from beginning to end. His hand never left him, even when he weakened under oppression. The difficulty didn’t mean God’s favor had departed. No. It gave God an opportunity to provide Nehemiah strength in his weakness and became the very thing that proved God’s hand was with him all along.

God reveals His favor by empowering strength in the face of opposition. Click To Tweet

Dear one, if opposition comes against you when you set out to answer God’s call, don’t despair that God has abandoned you. He hasn’t. He is faithful to keep His Word no matter how circumstances appear. Opposition often affirms your stance in God’s will and provides an opportunity for Him to reveal His Glory.

And He may just be doing a good work in you in the process.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

1 reply
  1. David Vest
    David Vest says:

    Can’t wait for you to appear on night line in July. I asked them to feature you because I wanted your words to be spread across the nation.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*