The book of Ezra tells us about a similar experience the Israelites faced when God called them to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. When first presented with this mission, the Israelites were ecstatic, gladly contributing their time and resources to the project. The people were focused on their calling and excited about doing God's work:
All the people boomed out hurrahs, praising God as the foundation of The Temple of God was laid. As many were noisily shouting with joy, many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads who had seen the first Temple, when they saw the foundations of this Temple laid, wept loudly for joy. People couldn’t distinguish the shouting from the weeping. The sound of their voices reverberated for miles around. (Ezra 3:11-13, MSG)But then the hard work set in, and the opposing forces started to make life difficult: "So these people [old enemies of Judah and Benjamin] started beating down the morale of the people of Judah, harassing them as they built. They even hired propagandists to sap their resolve" (Ezra 4:4-16). These enemies of God's people began writing letters of accusation and sought the help of authorities in order to stop the people's work.
Yes, even in Biblical times, bureuacracy and red tape made life very difficult for people to accomplish the calling God had placed on their lives. In fact, the Israelites had to stop rebuilding for a time because of their opposition (Ezra 4:24). I'm sure that it looked like a hopeless situation to many people, and some of them surely doubted that the rebuilding would ever come to pass.
But God continued to work on the Israelites' behalf, and a few bold prophets and leaders resumed the building process once again (Ezra 5:1-5). With time, the people had the blessings of kings and were able to complete the temple just as God had intended.
Then the Israelites who had returned from exile, along with everyone who had removed themselves from the defilements of the nations to join them and seek God, the God of Israel, ate the Passover. With great joy they celebrated the Feast of Unraised Bread for seven days. God had plunged them into a sea of joy; he had changed the mind of the king of Assyria to back them in rebuilding The Temple of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:21-22)What a powerful reminder for us not to lose sight of the vision God has given us! There are many times when the opposition we face seems insurmountable, and we doubt our ability to complete the work God has called us to do. But if we refuse to waver from our mission and continue to seek God, He will give us the strength to continue and ensure we have victory in the end.
I love the line, "God had plunged them into a sea of joy." And the best part of that? We don't have to wait until our temple is rebuilt, our school year is over, or our mission is complete to experience the joy that comes from God. Hebrews 11:11 tells us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Faith and hope are what keep us going in the hard times. If we truly believe that God will do what He's said He'll do, we can experience his joy right now, in the middle of our trials.
No matter how difficult our circumstances, we can choose to believe that the God who provided for His people thousands of years ago is still providing for us today. Ask Him to strengthen your faith and give you a renewed vision for the important work of teaching that He has called you to do. Keep building. Keep trusting God. He will never let you down.