Thursday, March 18, 2010

OnFire #218 Frustrated Efforts

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #218 Frustrated Efforts

Hi Folks - this is actually last week's letter - I've fallen behind on the blogsite, and so this week members of the blog will receive two letters as I catch up. 

Occasionally I have weeks which test my patience on a computer, and this is one of them. As I type this on my web browser from my office computer, I'm having a trojan removed from my laptop. It has takenhours of my week, and as my boys will tell you, I hate working on computer problems. Eventually this will be solved with patience, prayer, and a good removal tool.

It means, however, that my regular routine has been interrupted, OnFire is not ready, and I can't update my website because the software is on that machine.

How ironic that the next bit of Nehemiah reads like this: "When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites." (Nehemiah 2:10)*

This is the first mention of Sanballat and Tobiah in the book, and it provides foreshadowing for the rest of the account. Time and again they will try to frustrate Nehemiah. Nehemiah tells us about 4 different occasions when they intentionally stood in the way through ridicule, letter writing, and intimidation. We can be sure that there were other times and that these were simply representative events.

I've been surprisingly calm through this episode of computer troubles. I think I'm learning that eventually we will see it through, or we'll give up and pay someone to do it. I've given myself a kind of deadline so that it doesn't consume more of my time than is reasonable.

It is amazing how, when our children are watching, we can restrain ourselves. Just after Christmas, we had difficulty installing some new video editing software. It took many hours of tracking through pages of online help screens and asking friends, but eventually we got it solved and working. As we started, Mark made a comment which really made me aware of how much they watch. "I can tell you're going to be really mad as you do this..." That really made me think about my reaction to this stuff, and I intentionally worked on having a better perspective on it. I don't want him to think that way about me and I want to be a good role model.

So here in Nehemiah we first meet Sanballat and Tobiah. Later we will also meet Gesham and a few unnamed others who will also test Nehemiah's resolve.

We can be sure that we will meet people and situations which will test us, try our patience, tempt us to quit, or try to make a fool of us. As we continue to read in Nehemiah, we will see that he is determined.

His strong faith in God and his cause allows him to keep on going and even to thwart the plans of his enemies. As I see the names of Sanballant and Tobiah, Nehemiah gives me hope that I can get past the latest round of frustrations in my life, small or large as they may be. I'm no longer talking about the computer.

"This too will pass," as they say. Rather, I'm talking about the larger issues we face which threaten to derail us completely. Nehemiah finished the wall and carried on despite these problems. May we do the same.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a weekly letter on authentic faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Mar 11, 2010. Scripture references taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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