Fighting Words

Fighting words. You know them. Someone from outside or inside your walls speak them, and they sting. Fighting words can come in the form of nagging, blaming, criticizing, or venting. Whether you return the punch with your own words or shrink in silent hurt, fighting words are daggers to the soul. Without striking a blow, a word can bring defeat, wreak havoc, and do damage.

The returning exiles were rebuilding. Not happy about the progress, enemies hurled fighting words at Nehemiah and the wall-builders. Naysayers surrounded them, ready to attack. What an intense moment! Outside, enraged enemies; inside, builders frightened by a continual bombardment of propaganda. Would the discouraging words stop the rebuilding effort?

The Israelites organized their army around families. Each family stationed themselves to work, and in this case fight, together. Nehemiah began to muster their courage. He did this out in the open so the enemy could hear and see the preparation for what could have been a minor war.

Can you relate to this war of nerves? You may be making progress in rebuilding your relationship following deployment, and then something discouraging is said, from inside or outside your family walls. Voices whisper, “Too much has changed and your family will never recover.” Do not believe the naysayers. Will it take work? Yes! The fact that the words “work” and “fight” are included in this rebuilding scene implies that progress did not come easy. But with God’s help, and the will of the families to do the hard work, they made progress—and so can you.

Take heart! Like these builders, muster your family, look to the Lord, ask for his help, and have a mind to work! Even when you are discouraged, don’t stop. Look at what you have accomplished, not just what needs to be done. You too can report: “We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because [our family] had a heart for the work” (Nehemiah 4:6 MSG).

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