I want to take a few moments and develop a little bit more the third point from that sermon. The passage is Haggai 2:1-9 and it reads as follows:
In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lordcame by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
I absolutely love this passage. Apparently there has been some grumbling amongst the people. A few have some memory of the Temple before its destruction, or at least they have heard stories of its grandeur from the generation who had seen it, and they concluded that the Temple they were working on would fail to be anything close to the former Temple. But God anticipated this, and sends a prophetic word to the people by way fo Haggai. In asking the series of questions in verse 3, God has called the naysayers out. Those who are being used by the enemy to discourage the work to which God has called his faithful are being identified for what they are: the voice of the enemy!
God's word to the people (and it is stated three times) is "Be strong!" He knew there would be adversity. He knew there would be discouragement. Nothing about that surprised him. That is what happens when the enemy seeks to disrupt the efforts of the faithful! But they are challenged to be strong, to persevere, and to take comfort and be encouraged. Why? Because God is with them. Despite adversity, doubt, and discouragement, God is still there in their midst. Their work on the Temple is right in the middle of God's will, and no amount of negativity can change that. When we step out in faith, confident that God has called us to something, we, too, will be attacked by the enemy. But despite that adversity, God will be with us.
But God's challenge to the people does not stop at "Be strong!" He also tells them, "Work!" When we discouraged or feel like we are facing resistance from the enemy, our natural inclination is to stop doing whatever it is we were doing. But God wants us to press through. He wants us to persevere. We can be confident that he is with us, that we are doing exactly what he called us to, and that, no matter the resistance, we can (and should!) continue until the work is finished.
Let's respond positively to the prophetic word of Haggai. Let's be strong! And let's get to work on what God has called us to. He has uniquely gifted each of us for the task to which we are called. Let's get busy doing his work!