When Pressed on Every Side

"Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" says the New Testament.  Discernment: choosing who to listen to when surrounded by many voices whispering (or shouting) council.
Back in the Old Testament, Nehemiah was trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, a huge task in itself. But then you add in the opposition...
Four letters come from Tobiah and Sanballat, inviting Nehemiah to come meet with them. He saw through it as a trap, and so refused. Then they send him a fifth letter, "It is known all around that you and the Jews are going to rebel, and that you are trying to make yourself their king." Most people would get worked up at the effects of such a false report, but Nehemiah responds: "No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind."
Calm. He knows that their objective is to frighten them from the work. Then a brief cry rises from Nehemiah, "But now, O God, strengthen my hands!" 
Then a "friend" of his warns him that "they" are going to try and kill him by night. The Lord gives him the discernment that this friend is in the pay of his enemies, and so disregards the "help."
"Remember Sanballat and Tobiah, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and all the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid." 

"In those days, the rulers of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah..." Wait, what????
...and Tobiah's letters came to them." Hold it! What is going on?
"For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife." Oh, now it's clear. Okay, maybe not:)
These people named (Shecaniah, Jehohanan, Meshullam, Berechiah) are all powerful men in the land. They are leaders of the province Beyond the River. They are a mighty lobbying group that the men of Judah can't afford to offend.
And so they speak many words of Tobiah's wisdom and good conduct in the presence of Nehemiah.
Poor Nehemiah is getting threatening letters and messages. He has prophets telling him of his doom. His "advisors" and "friends" are actually in the pay of his enemy.
He is hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed. And why not?
Because he is continually reminding himself of the TRUTH. When we are surrounded by enemies and those who drag us down, it wears on us, and we become discouraged, eventually giving up. UNLESS, we remind ourselves of who we are in God and what God has promised to us.
Nehemiah had a direct command from God to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem.  God promised to be with him, to give him strength. God is Nehemiah's God. He has a relationship with Him, and he will not be shaken.
Nehemiah has little prayers interspersed throughout his book. "God be my strength." "Oh my God, strengthen my hands!"
Back in chapter 2, "And the kind granted to me what I said, for the good hand of my God was upon me."
He continually reminds himself, no matter how dark the night, that God is my with him. God is his strength. God is his fortress. God is his commander.

And we must do the same, my friends. When those around us don't understand why we stand, when we are so busy with activities we are ready to keel over, when we are troubled in our spirit by doubts and weaknesses...tell yourself the truth.  Remind yourself of who you were before Christ, who you are in Christ, and what God wants you to do through Christ! Do not let the shadowy voices of counsel drain your strength. Do not let the enemy make you afraid.

There are so many verses that remind us that God is our strength! God is our shelter! God will never leave us or forsake us! God is our defender! God is our TRUTH!
Keep your eyes focused on the Lord and His promises, and not the "giants in the land," who, though many, are no match for our God!

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