He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said,What are those feeble Jews doing?Nehemiah 4:1b-2a
Most of us have had experience with what is called Murphy's Law, the idea that if anything can go wrong, it will. There are many applications of it. For instance, if you try to fix something, Murphy's Law says it will take longer than you anticipated; it will cost more than you expected; it will break down before it is paid for; and someone will not like it when it is done! We have come to such a circumstance in chapter 4 of the book of Nehemiah. Here Nehemiah faces severe and violent opposition to his work of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. The opposition takes off its gloves, and the real battle begins. We, like Nehemiah, have an enemy who opposes us with craftiness and power. Against every effort on our part to get our lives together and recover from damage, hurt, and ruin, we will experience opposition from the enemy. Almost invariably his first attempt to halt such recovery is to discourage us through ridicule, derision, or rejection.
Hear the scorn, derision, and sarcasm in those comments! Many of us, perhaps, have experienced this kind of attack. I know personally of people who are unwilling to do what is right because they fear their friends will laugh at them or mock them. I know a man who is unable to stop drinking because his drinking friends make fun of him. Yet drink is destroying his life. I know of others who are hooked on drugs, but they do not want to stop because they are afraid they will be laughed at. These are the powerful weapons the enemy employs here.
Most of us have had some experience with this weapon of ridicule and mockery that the enemy employs here. Perhaps you have had someone say to you when you are trying to stop something that was wrong,
Who do you think you are, anyhow? Do you think you are better than us? Or perhaps someone says,
You've made a good start, but you won't hold out. You won't last.
Nehemiah regards this attack as an insult against God Himself. Note that he does not argue back nor does he retaliate. He does not blister these men with angry rebuttal. He simply responds by praying. It reminds us of Peter's words about Jesus:
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats (1 Peter 2:23). This is a helpful picture of how to handle that kind of attack.
Dear Father, strengthen me to do what is right regardless of the ridicule I receive, and help me to respond to that ridicule in prayer and faith.
How do we respond when we are ridiculed or scorned? What is a better way to respond than in fear, anger, hurt, or rebuttal?