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Building a strong character

December 11, 2010

We've all heard the little analogy, "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger." But there may be times when you might wonder about that little saying and think, "Does this really make me stronger?"

Also consider the drama of our teens and even some adults today as they proclaim "You're killin' me" when they are referring to a test at school, some kind of delay of gratification or actually not having a snow day.

In reality, you may be going through opposition, trials or something else extreme and wonder how to get through it. Here are a few tried and true ways to enable you to not only "get by," but help you realize that some day your trial will be "food" for someone else going through the same thing or something similar.

Remember the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a job to do and that was to build the walls. Sounds simple enough, right? He had a job to do, "and the people had a mind to work." However, by Chapter 4 of the story, a guy named Sanballat - we'll call him "San" - was jealous and angry when he saw what was being accomplished and began mocking the Jews. Wow. Takes a lot of nerve to do that, as they are God's people.

How do I know they were jealous? We know there was jealousy due to his ridicule. I always tell folks, 99 percent of hostility is due to jealousy of some sort. So, Nehemiah faced ridicule, and what did he do? Did he take a ragin' fit and tell them what's what and call them on their jealousy or just sucker punch them a good one? No, my friend, Nehemiah answered by a prayer. Now, his prayer wasn't a precious little diddy, but rather a straight forward one calling it like he saw it: "Here, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own heard, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity." It goes on with a bit stronger language, and then an amazing thing happened. The people joined together in unity and "had a mind to work."

Next, Nehemiah barely had a break and he was opposed by anger. Yeah, it was San again but he had his buddies Tobiah and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites. So, San, Toby and some other so-called mighty groups of people were angry and decided to stop the walls of Jerusalem. They conspired together to stop this wall from being built. Amazing also that Nehemiah's response was the same. He prayed a prayer and set a watch against him. No, he was no mamby-pamby, and was ready to protect, but he prayed to God.

Looking around them, the workers began to get discouraged and downhearted. Often, that is our first mistake - we look around us instead of up. Then, God forbid, they began repeating their enemies' words to each other. Another big no. The answer to that was: "Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughter, your wives, and your houses."

There is truly power in the word. Repeating it during a trial, keeping notecards with scripture, or placing your Bible open to meditate on it gives strength to us when we are weary. You see, the builders worked, but they also had their swords by their sides. They were praying, working, but ready to do battle. Our sword is the word ... it is quick, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. Again, there is power in the word. There was also a trumpet to call them to battle. It calls them together in case a battle needed to take place and they were scattered. No one should be a lone ranger, live on an island, or go it alone when faced with heartache, trials, opposition and hurt. We need each other.

So, while they worked, prayed, had their swords and a trumpet to unite, their heart cry was this verse: "God shall fight for us." My friend, you may think you are alone and no one sees the hurt. You may think no one saw the abuse you faced as a child. You may have secrets upon secrets, but I am here to tell you, you are not alone and God will fight for you.

Then, my Scofield Bible states above Chapter five there was opposition by greed and heartlessness. One battle after another had to be faced in order to get that wall built, but it was faced. This battle was faced by restitution and Nehemiah set the example by restoring anything that was taken that should not have been.

The final opposition was opposition by craft. Oh yeah, it was San again with a new buddy named Geshem. The Bible said, "they thought to do me mischief." They kept sending letters, "come down to a certain city and let's talk a while." Now, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out these same fellows who had already caused so much grief would still be up to no good. They were persistent, "let's take counsel together."

Hello! They were trying to make Nehemiah afraid and stop the work of God. Ole' San thought he'd weaken the hands by fear, but again, Nehemiah was firm with them and prayed, "O God, strengthen my hands."

We see a pattern here, don't we? Prayer, the word, (swords), people support with unity, manly firmness in not believing their lies and deceit, and continuing to serve God by building the walls and trusting God to fight against them that fought against him. The wall does get built, by the way, and Verse 16 of Chapter 6 says, "And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God."

I believe that much of our adversity is not only to prove the faithfulness of God to us, but it is to prove the faithfulness of God to those around us and even and maybe even especially to those who might ridicule us. Hopefully, this in turn, will turn their eyes to him. He is no respecter of people, but rather is the helper of the helpless and the lifter up of the downtrodden. Take heart dear one today. Know that if God be for you, who can be against you.

(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and a counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling. To contact her, e-mail or call 304-637-7018.)



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