Have you ever felt discouraged? I know I have. And, it has not always hit when things were not going well or I was feeling emotionally down. Discouragement can come your way no matter what is currently happening in your life.
I was recently reading the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament section of the Bible. A good story of God moving strongly and powerfully in the life of a young man who was taken from his home nation and became a slave in a foreign empire that did not believe in the God he worshipped and served. Eventually he earns the respect and trust of the ruler and becomes a key member of the ruler’s household. In time, he hears about what is left of his own nation’s capital, Jerusalem. It wounds him deeply that the city is in ruins and so is the temple within the city.
He prays and feels God calling him to go and bring the people together to rebuild the city and the temple beginning with the wall that surrounds all major cities of that day as a means of protection. So, he heads off with the ruler’s blessing and letters of introduction. He has everything he will need to rebuild supplied to him. The people are favourable to the plan and join him in rebuilding. They have the wall half built. So, progress is being made and people can see things coming together.
In the process, Nehemiah has faced some fairly strong and regular opposition to the plan and to the work being done. He handles it wisely and in both a very co-operative and gracious way. But the people are all aware of the constant opposition to this work God has called them to accomplish. In fact, they are surrounded by nations that are enemies of the Jewish nation. As the opposition continues to grow and threaten the work, those rebuilding the wall and the city work with a sword in one hand ready to defend what they are doing.
But the people become discouraged …
Rebuilding – whether it is a walled city or your life, ministry, family, business – can be exciting for a little while, but when the initial excitement fades and opposition arises, it can get discouraging really fast. Nehemiah 4:10 says, “Then the people of Judah began to complain. ‘The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.’”
When you work hard for a while and you are blasted with ridicule, resistance, and rumours, you’re going to get discouraged! When does that normally kick in? Discouragement usually creeps in around the halfway point. Verse 6 states, “The wall was completed to half its height around the entire city.”
How many of you have projects around your house that are half finished? We can all relate to the sources of the people’s discouragement in the book of Nehemiah.
1> The first one is FATIGUE.
“The workers are getting tired…” When you are tired, you lose your edge to fight off discouragement and opposition.
2> The second one is FRUSTRATION
“There is so much rubble to be moved…” They actually were making a lot of progress, but the task felt overwhelming at the moment.
3> The third source of discouragement is FAILURE
“We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves”
4> The fourth one is FEAR
“They will come from all directions and attack us” (Nehemiah 4:12)
Beware of these four things that can stop our rebuilding process dead in its tracks. Take some time as you think through some of the projects you have half accomplished … and nail down why you never completed them. What was the source of your discouragement – fatigue, frustration, failure, or fear .. or maybe a combination of two or there of them.
And, then look at the current condition of your walk with Jesus and your general overall spiritual health and well being. Discouraged? Why? And what can you do to get over the half-time slump?