“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was a phrase that I would annoyingly respond with as I was learning English and other kids would tease me for having a thick Filipino accent. Now fast forward to today when I’ve lost that accent and trying to relearn my native language but unlike my younger self who didn’t care much, I find myself more sensitive to the ridicule from my friends and family who could still speak the Filipino language.
I’m sure you could recall an experience of your own when you were certain you would succeed but then doubted yourself when you were discouraged by people’s negative remarks. These remarks don’t necessarily have to be insults but they can often derail us from our goals, dreams and even God’s purpose for us.
During the time when Nehemiah led the people of Israel in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, the people received many insults and threats from several oppositions. Nehemiah however was a great leader whose obedience to God and leadership were exemplified in his actions. Although the people may have experienced their share of fatigue, frustration, and fear from their oppositions, he encouraged them not to be afraid and to keep persisting toward rebuilding the wall. Together they also prayed for God’s strength and direction which reminded them who was ultimately on their side.
Like the many negative words that we hear which have casted doubts in our lives, we often forget who is truly in control. We forget that in this earth we live in, we are continuously barraged by the devil’s attempts to bring us down and turn us away from God, which include situations when we are discouraged. As we learned from Nehemiah, we need to remember that we may be delayed or slowed down but never stopped. When it comes to God’s persistence that He instills in us when we pray to Him, He reminds us that if He is for us, who can ever be against us?
Tama ba si Lord? Siyempre! (Is the Lord right? Of course!) … I’m still trying.
– Mar Jay Rigor