Winston Churchill is famous for saying, “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.” It could have been a summary of the life of Nehemiah. Chapter 13 is all about how he persevered in his task even though it got more difficult with each passing day. It appears to have been a losing battle. Have you ever felt that you were fighting a losing battle?

Instead of getting better, things seem to have gotten worse. The priests used their position for personal gain. Tobiah had used the house of God for his own residence. “And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber” (Vs 8). The priests had stopped supporting the Levites (Vs 10). Nehemiah reestablished the tithe to keep the House of God active. The people were ignoring the Sabbath day and Nehemiah confronted them: “Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day?” (Vs 17). Many of the men had married the Jezebel-like women of the land in direct opposition of God’s instructions. This infuriated Nehemiah. He says, “And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair” (Vs 25) (Jesus is said to have fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69 which says, “zeal for thy house has consumed me.” That was probably referring to his driving out the money changers.)

Without commending his violent action, I can’t help but feel his frustration, but he never gave up on the job God had given him. He stayed with it to the end.  Leighton Ford, Billy Graham’s brother-in-law, had a son named Sandy. Sandy was a track and field athlete. Once, at the end of a mile race, he had a forty yard lead when his leg cramped and he stumbled and fell. He got up, but fell again after a few yards. Seeing the 2nd place runner coming, he got up on his hands and knees and crawled under the tape to barely win the race. That’s perseverance. Things got harder for Nehemiah at the end also, but he never gave up.

Paul once said that he had “fought the good fight,” and that he had “finished the race.” I’d like to be able to say the same thing some day, wouldn’t you?

“Rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.” (1 Chronicles 16:10-11)