By Norma Miller
November 1, 2011
Ezra, Chapter 3-6, tell us: When the children of Israel turned their hearts back to the Lord and repented, they began to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians when King Nebuchadnezzar had exiled them to Babylon.
Jobs were assigned to the correct people. Plans were organized, and everyone was filled with joy and energy.
However, as soon as their enemies realized what was happening, they tried to trick the Israelites into allowing them to help with the work. They were told that they could not help; only Israelites could take part in this work.
Since that scheme was ineffective, the enemies then tried to interrupt, to hinder, and to discourage the work in every possible way.
This time of trial for the Israelites lasted during the reign of King Cyrus (the king of Persia) until King Darius took the throne after King Artaxerxes. During King Darius's reign, the work of rebuilding the temple was brought to a screeching halt.
When King Darius took the throne, two prophets of Israel began to prophesy in the Lord's name to the children of Israel. With some encouragement, several strong leaders again began to rebuild the temple, and the prophets helped them. However, the enemy was not going to give up that easily. Their officials approached the builders and asked by what authority they rebuilt the temple. They said in King Cyrus's authority.
God was watching out for them, and thus the labor was not hindered. King Darius checked the records to see if the information they had given him was true, and he discovered that King Cyrus had, in fact, decreed that the temple should be rebuilt. So king Darius gave his full support and favor and commanded government officials to help. The temple was finally finished and dedicated because God had caused the King's favor to be on His children.
Is it surprising that when good things happen and God's will is being performed that there would be opposition? We fool ourselves if we think the enemy of our souls will give up without a fight! Have you ever noticed this in your life when you made a decision to walk in obedience to God, or made a choice to follow Him more fully?
Our family has experienced this frequently in the last several years. If you are serious about God, you WILL have opposition! Sadly, this opposition often comes from those closest to us. It is during these times we must not give up. It can be very difficult and challenging, but if we are assured of being in God's will, He will be behind us, leading the way even when the going is difficult.
Notice that even though it was God's perfect will that the temple be rebuilt, the Jews still had a season of severe opposition and a time when they were forced to stop.
Don't you think they were discouraged and questioned whether it was God's will?
Do you think they asked if it was even worth it?
Judging by some of my natural reactions, I am sure they had doubts. I am sure there were those who did give up. But when God sent His prophets to speak His word, there were men who were ready and willing, and rose to the challenge once again. This time God removed the roadblocks for them. He was behind them the entire time even when the work was opposed and stopped.
Opposition gives us strength. Sometimes we may need a time of rest. There are probably many reasons why God allows obstacles. We can be sure if we follow God's plan, we will have obstacles because Satan will not be pleased. God may also test us to see how serious we are about Him.
As I mentioned earlier, our family has experienced obstacles and opposition several times and especially in the last few years. It really didn't begin, interestingly enough, until we made the decision to be obedient no matter what the cost.
My husband has had to do quite a bit of travelling for business in the last year or so. I do not enjoy being alone, especially with the issues that can come up with four children, some with special needs. I would much rather have my husband at home all the time. I do not feel I am one of those strong women, or "super moms," who seem to gracefully and energetically run the household no matter what. I have often (to my shame) begged my husband to "please stay home." If he felt he was supposed to travel at that time, he had to be strong and tell me he understands. I know he wishes he could stay, but he needs to do what he feels is right. In this way, we wives can make it hard for our husbands to follow God's leading and hinder blessings that could otherwise come to us.
It is difficult when my husband is gone. Many times as soon as my husband is gone, one of the children gets sick, usually with a flu bug that will pass on to the others.
It is not easy, as you moms well know, to have a bunch of fevered, vomiting children, especially without your husband there for encouragement and moral support. Satan knew exactly what would be the most frustrating for me. (Trust me, my friends, vomiting children is exactly that!) Often I am exhausted upon his return and look forward to Daddy being home to be strong, and to relieve my load a little. However, often my husband is also very exhausted when he returns. Needless to say, it can be very frustrating for both of us! When you are so very tired, it can be easy to look at each other and think, "And now what reason would you have to be tired?" Sometimes we get our eyes off what God is trying to do in the grand scheme of things and look at each other as arch-enemies! But remember, Satan will oppose in any way he can, especially getting our focus on each other, so we forget that "...we wrestle not against flesh and blood."
This passage in Ezra was like God's personal Word to me this morning and was very encouraging. Basically the long and the short of it was, "Lynn, don't be surprised that you have opposition and challenges! Expect them! If you learn to expect opposition, you won't be taken off guard and stopped by it. Instead, you can trust God to overcome the obstacles."
We continually need to remind ourselves that these seasons of trial will not last forever. It sure seems like they do. These times can be exhausting. Sometimes I long for nights of uninterrupted sleep and for lots of energy. Neither of these is likely to happen very soon since I have a toddler who is teething very late at night, and I suffer from extreme fatigue when I'm pregnant.
I have done my share of questioning God's wisdom (not a good idea, by the way) in all these things, but He is in control, and I am slowly learning that fighting God only wears me out and lengthens the whole process.
So I go onward today, knowing that the way will not always be easy. (In fact, if you don't face opposition you may do well to examine if you are on the right track.) If I expect that I will have obstacles, I can, with God's help, overcome them and experience the blessings God wants to send my way.
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