“So I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”” (Nehemiah 6:3)
I have been mulling over this verse for a few days now. Nehemiah was working for the king and had a burden on his heart to go to a different town and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah prayed and the Lord paved the way for him to leave his job, go and build the wall around Jerusalem, with the King’s blessing. What an awesome opportunity! What if your boss encouraged you to go on a mission trip and gave you the time off and money to cover some added expenses? We need to know the background to understand the context here in this tiny statement. While working, a man named Sanballat got all grumpy about the wall being built. Maybe he had a rough childhood. Maybe he had a few bad experiences in life. Maybe he was just a big bad bully for no good reason at all. Sanballat did all he could to stop the wall from being built. He tried reason, manipulation, and even force. Nehemiah was even told to hide in the temple because Sanballat might kill him. Instead of hiding, Nehemiah led the people to be prepared to fight. Half the people stood guard while half worked. You know what’s amazing about the book of Nehemiah? They finished the work they had set out to do! You know how long it took? Only fifty-two days (Nehemiah 6:15)! It was SO quick! But how did they finish so quick? They were focused on completing the work God had assigned to them. When adversity came, they didn’t dwell on it or even waste any time at all being upset about it. They strategized and continued working. They re-strategized and continued working. When Sanballat tried to talk to Nehemiah, Nehemiah refused because he was too busy doing God’s will to get involved in meaningless controversies. “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come,” (Nehemiah 6:3). Nehemiah also asked a question, “Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). It’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately too. Why should I stop doing what God has called me to do in order to…fill in the blank. Are you involved in a great work for which God has called you? Do you stay focused on the task at hand? Or are you distracted and downtrodden by those against you? Lord, help us focus on living for You and not on our struggles.