Opposition and Frustration
When a work of God is in progress opposition and frustration are often not far behind. So it was in the project of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem after the Israelites began to return from their exile in Babylon. No sooner was the foundation laid than opposition was encountered.
Verses 1-5 and verse 24 tell the story of the opposition that developed.
In the intervening verses Ezra gives two examples drawn from later periods of Israelite efforts at rebuilding to be representative of the types of frustrations they experienced. Verse 6 relates to what happened during the reign of the king who followed Cyrus and Darius that is Xerxes (Ahasuerus) 486-465 BC. Verses 7-23, a further example, comes from the reign of Artaxerxes 1, 465-424 BC.
William Carey, known as the father of the modern missionary movement, was no stranger to opposition and frustration in his life’s work. He went to India as a missionary 1793. He lost a son and his wife died mentally deranged. His prodigious efforts in learning Bengali and Sanskrit resulted in the production of grammars in those languages and translation of the Scriptures. He also produced translations of Sanskrit literature. In 1812 a fire in the print shop destroyed considerable quantities of his work which required much re-working. He set about that task patiently and determinedly. Today we honour his perseverance in the face of great setbacks and disappointments.
You too may know something of disappointment, opposition and frustration in your own life and work for God. If you really are convinced that God has called you to do something for him, then the thing to do is to keep at it regardless of the challenges that come your way. There may be multiple reasons why God allows these challenges to occur. Perhaps He uses them to train character, or to strengthens faith, or maybe to develop perseverance for something else Whatever it might be, the thing is, as one writer has expressed it, “to practise long obedience in the same direction”.
Responding to Great Grace
Paul has taken eleven chapters to detail for his Jewish and Pagan Messiah-following friends of the Church in the great city of Rome the “depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” in accomplishing the salvation of his whole creation and of his Jew/ Gentile “Israel”.
My best suggestion is that you consider reading the verses set for today while reflecting on the four verses that conclude the previous chapter.
Meditation, consideration, or contemplation, whichever term is used, means, in essence, so to attend with reflection and prayer to a specific word from God that it begins to shape the way you think, feel, and react to what that ‘word’ says.
Paul’s call for self-offering, for being transformed, for proving what is the will of God, and for thinking and acting appropriately in life and amongst God’s people, springs from a spirit deeply affected by what he has summarised in 11:33-36. Take time to allow the words of that wonderful summarising doxology to produce the spiritually healthy reactions of 12:1-8 in you.