Today we call it “living with stress.” In Nehemiah 6:17-19 the godly governor Nehemiah lived in a very difficult environment: the very nobles of Judah who were at court with Nehemiah were in constant communication with his enemy Tobiah; they were also related to Tobiah; and “were speaking of his good deeds in my presence and reported all my words to him.” (:19) Added to this, it says “Then Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.” How do you deal with such a poisonous environment? Nehemiah gives us a great model of how to succeed in a stressful atmosphere:
His steps to dealing with a hostile environment include:
1) He took proper precautions. Nehemiah never lived in denial, acting as if the threats he was receiving were not real. He stationed lookouts, had workers arm themselves, etc. He didn’t ignore the dangers, and hope they would go away, but took prudent steps to protect himself and his people.
2) He did not compromise. One of enemies in disguise suggested that Nehemiah shut himself in the Temple to protect himself from the enemies. This was a trap, as they were looking for an excuse to accuse him of breaking the Law by entering the Temple — but Nehemiah did not “bite”; he maintained his integrity despite the threats.
3) He continued doing what God called him to do. The work on the wall around Jerusalem never stopped, despite the constant threats of his enemies. This is vital as well. The whole purpose of the enemy’s schemes is to hinder God’s work.
Those of us who live in similar, stressful environments today would do well to follow Nehemiahs’ example of working under stress: 1) take proper precautions. Don’t act as if there is no problem and hope it will just go away. Guarding yourself against real threats is prudent. 2) Do not compromise. One of Satan’s great temptations is to get you to compromise God’s word, with the excuse that it is necessary in such stressful times. But don’t think that he won’t immediately turn around and accuse you before God if you do! And 3) Above all, continue doing what God has placed on your heart. The reason the enemy places all these obstacles in our way is to distract us from God’s kingdom’s work. Don’t let him succeed. Follow Nehemiah’s example, and finish the good work God has called you to do!