Intimidation comes in many forms. It could be from the majority voice and accepted norms in the world. It could be an employer or colleague belittling what you are doing. It could be a passing comment by a family member or spouse. It can be from friends or acquaintance through small jokes.
Intimidation could even come in the form of illnesses and diseases, robbing our health. Or even in monetary forms – finances can be shaken, assets turns into liability.
It is easy to freeze, fight or flight. We either just stop moving and growing, try to use intimidation back on those who are intimidating us or simply run away from the situation.
In Nehemiah chapter 6, the people of Israel were faced with lots of ridicule as they were rebuilding the fallen walls. Their work and effort were laughed at. Later on, Nehemiah himself was being threatened – people who were jealous of him wanted to accuse him for an uprising against the king by supposedly exposing his greed for the title.
Nehemiah chapter 6, verse 9 handily provides us the solution to overcome intimidation, ‘They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, “They’ll give up; they’ll never finish it.” I prayed, “Give me strength.”’
There wasn’t any magic word or special rituals for it. The first thing we need to do is to pray. There are two important things when we pray. One, who we are praying to. Two, what we pray for.
Praying to God means we are confiding in Him and trusting Him with our problems. Praying acknowledges God’s sovereignty. It shows that we believe He is the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient one who is above and has control over all things in this world.
It is important to go to the right person when we have a problem. We don’t go to someone who can’t solve our problem. We always seek the expert who we think can fix what went wrong. We don’t call a plumber when we need to fix our car. Likewise we don’t call a mechanic when we need to fix our water pipes.
Who we seek in times of intimidation would determine how successful we are in dealing with that intimidation.
The next interesting point to note when Nehemiah prayed to God is that he did not ask for the intimidation to stop. Nehemiah understood what the Bible had prepared us for even before these scriptures were written – that in this world we will continue to experience difficulties.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (John chapter 16, verse 33)
Since we will continue to face difficulties, in these sense intimidation, it wouldn’t make sense to pray it away. As James chapter 1, verses 3-4 reminds us, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
So what can we pray for when we are intimidated? Nehemiah sets a good example for us to follow. Instead of praying to God to take away the intimidation, he asked God for strength.
Our prayers should not be focused on how big the problem is but on how big our God is. Our God is bigger than any problem in this world. That means He can make us bigger than our problem.
God can give us more than enough strength to not only endure the situation but to come out of it victorious. God can give us overflowing joy to not only be joyful ourselves but to be a joy to others. God can give us wisdom beyond what we need to solve the problem but to also help others solve their problem.
As Nehemiah prayed to God for strength, he didn’t just pray and wait. With the strength that God gave him, he equipped himself and led the others through the intimidation.
His prayers were always followed by practical actions - “We prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night” (Nehemiah chapter 4, verse 9). Nehemiah believed that God would come through for them but also knew that they had to play their part.
He reminded the people to do their part and assured them that God will fight for them. “Then I spoke to the nobles and officials and everyone else: “There’s a lot of work going on and we are spread out all along the wall, separated from each other. When you hear the trumpet call, join us there; our God will fight for us.”
(Nehemiah chapter 4, verses 19-20)
If anyone is facing intimidation today, be encouraged that we can come to God asking Him for strength to face it. As we equip ourselves and do our part, we can face the enemies with confidence that our God will fight for us.
The lyrics in ‘Anything is possible’ by Bethel Music aptly sums up our answer to intimidation -
There is no rival that could ever stand against Your might
You’ve always been with us
Every battle You’ve already won
We’ve already won
Esther Koh is a primary school teacher living in Christchurch with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
Esther Koh’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html