Summary: The best way to conquer the crisis is to cling to God together as a church.

Most of us if not all are facing the new year with fear. We hear a lot nowadays that we would really feel the crunch of the global financial crisis as we enter the new year. We monitor the news and watch the stock exchange reports flatline. It looked like the heart monitor reading of a person who is about to die. It’s getting weaker and weaker and we are just waiting for the heart to fail. I would admit and, I believe given the chance, you would also admit that when we think of the future we are really just thinking how we could cope with the crisis. We feel that’s the only way—cope with the crisis. But, when we turn to God’s Word, we see that there is a better way than just coping with it. This morning we will look at how we can conquer the crisis. CONQUER, not just cope. Turn with me to Nehemiah chapter 4. In our passage we will look into how Nehemiah conquered a crisis. God laid a burden in his heart to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In response to his prayer, God granted him favor with the king. God granted him favor also with the people who joined the work of rebuilding. However, not all were in favor of the work. Even before they started, their enemies were very much against it. They were even very vocal about it. This sets the stage for our passage. We will see that the best way to conquer the crisis is to cling to GOD TOGETHER.

In our passage, the opposition was intensifying. At first their enemies were just mocking the Jews. Their leader Sanballat spoke so loud. He pretended to talk to his allies. But he actually made sure that the Jews heard every word of it. We read his mockery in verse 2: “What is this feeble bunch of Jews trying to do? Are they going to rebuild the wall and offer sacrifices all in one day? Do they think they can make something out of this pile of scorched stones?”[1] Then, his sidekick offered his own expert opinion. “Look at the wall they are building! Why, even a fox could knock over this pile of stones.”[2] In times of crisis, we can be sure that there will be people who would comment; but they will not commit. They will just say anything but do nothing to solve the problem. They will point an accusing finger but will not lift a finger to help at all. All Nehemiah could do at that time was to pray. He held on to God. And they continued building. Verse 6 tells us, “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” They were so determined to finish the project. Nehemiah prayed and they worked together. Yes, the best way to conquer the crisis is to cling to God and to each other.

When their enemies noticed that their mockery was not working, they turned up the heat. The opposition intensified. They now made plans to attack. This time Nehemiah rallied the people together. Verse 9 tells us, “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” Now, the people were getting tired. Let’s read verse 10. “Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.’” They were worn out and weary. They looked at what they are doing and instead of seeing what they have achieved so far, that they were halfway through the project, they thought, “Will we ever finish this wall?” In verse 6, we read that “the people worked with all their heart.” Now in verse 10 we read that “The strength of the laborers is giving out”. What a way to fall!

Then, the Jews found that the words of their enemies were making its way into their hearts: “Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’” [3] They now feared their own shadows. To top it off, we read in verse 12 that “the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’” They became the messenger of their own enemies. They were parroting what their enemies were saying. And they kept repeating the threats. No wonder they got so discouraged! Those who are saying those words like a broken record were those who lived near their enemies. These people were not even trying to cope. They were definitely not conquering the crisis. The crisis was conquering them. They were so down and out. Thus, we can see that in the midst of crisis, it really matters who we listen to. It really matters who we walk with in these trying times. I am not saying we deny the crisis. What I am saying is that we deal with it. And the best way to conquer and not just cope with the crisis is to cling to God and to each other.

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