Nehemiah came along and encouraged the people to rebuild the walls. As they start the local rulers get angry and start to mock them. The people of Israel pray to God and do not answer their tormentors. They just keep on working. Scripture says 'for the people had a mind to work'. What a great attitude to have.
Sanballat and Tobias, those neighboring rulers, got angrier still. They conspired to attack the Israelite and kill them. They wanted to stop the people from rebuilding the walls. First they planned an ambush, but the people of Israel heard about it and told Nehemiah. Nehemiah immediately prayed and then set up a guard. He reminded the people that God would fight for them and then he set up a schedule and had half the men stand guard while the rest kept building. It says that they had one hand for their trowel and the other for their sword. They wore their swords all the time.
This account illustrates something that I think a lot of Christians struggle with. The balance of trusting God and personal responsibility. God's servants often fail from a lack of one or the other of these elements. Yes, we need to trust God in everything, but at the same time we need to accept responsibility for the things we can do. I think there is a constant tension between these two ideas and where that balance is reached is not the same for everyone. There is no sin in setting out a guard or in wearing a sword when the enemy is determined to attack. We must ultimately have our faith in God. God can (and did in the time of Joshua) send large hailstones to kill the enemy, but at the same time he he had the army out there fighting alongside Him. We are to be co-laborers in the purposes of God. It is easy to see that we should pray for others salvation, but we should also share the gospel with them. We must pray and trust God, but on the other hand we need to step forward in faith and act on what He shows us. We must also give our Christian brothers and sisters grace if they come to a different balance point between faith and responsibility. I see this come up in many different areas.... physical health decisions, family planning, finding a spouse and even finding work. We can back ourselves into an unbiblical box if we cling to one or the other of these positions. We must not get trapped into thinking that to gird on our sword, to take action, is to show a lack of faith, and is therefore sinful. We must seek God and His plan for us and do as He directs.
So, when faced with a difficult situation, consider the following steps of Nehemiah ....
1. Pray and seek God.
2. Set a guard, watch, arm yourself
3. Do what God has you to do, work
I hope this helps you. It was an encouragement to me and helped me clarify my thinking on some different issues.
( Why the picture on the top? It was supposed to give the idea of some walls needing rebuilding)