One of the most devastating experiences you can face is when things are going well after you’ve waited so long for something to happen and then you hit a major road block. Maybe it’s trying to start a family and after overcoming problem after problem, you finally get pregnant… only to lose the baby. Or it’s getting a new job after weeks or months of unemployment, only to find when you get there that there is no longer a spot for you.
It’s easy to lose hope in those cases. It’s very human to feel all that frustration very, very deeply. What makes things worse is if that roadblock is a long term one. You’ve just gotten started and then you’re shut down. And you have no idea if you’ll ever be able to get started again. It’s understandable if you feel like giving up.
Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?” – Ezra 4:21-22, ESV
The Israelites had made progress. The altar and the foundation for the Temple had been rebuilt. Then those who were opposed to the rebuilding of the Temple, adversaries of Judah, sent a message to the new king over Persia, Artaxerxes. They pointed out how Judah had risen up in the past. The adversaries naturally neglected to point out that Cyrus had commissioned the work in the first place. With their carefully crafted message, the adversaries succeeded in getting Artaxerxes on their side. He then issued a decree ordering all work to be stopped. I’m sure the news had to be devastating to those who had waited so long, who had returned so triumphantly, and who had poured their hearts into the rebuilding of the Temple.
Here’s where, from a human perspective, we’d probably say further progress was impossible and we’d give up. The wonderful thing about God is that He can do what we think is impossible. He didn’t send His people back to fail. He wanted His Temple rebuilt. It would take some time. Artaxerxes would pass from power and Darius would become the new guy in charge. God would call Nehemiah to go down and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and jump start the rebuilding. In the end, the Temple was completed. It was completed because God desired it so.
This is what we need to cling to as Christians when hard times come upon us. It’s what we grasp when we think we’re moving forward, only to be stopped once again. If what we are doing is God’s desire, He will bring it to pass. We have hope, Him, even when things look the bleakest. Don’t lose hope.