Summary: Did you know that there is a plague sweeping the country today? It’s not the Beijing flu, or cancer, or even the common cold. This outbreak, however, can be just as deadly as the most dreaded disease known to man it’s called the epidemic of discourage
Are you familiar with Murphy’s Law? The original “Murphy” was an engineer who conducted an experiment to test human acceleration tolerances. Unfortunately for him, he installed 16 motion sensors the wrong way, leading to the now famous quotation, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” I guess the corollary is also true: “If anything can’t go wrong, it will anyway.”
Here are some other laws blamed on poor Mr. Murphy:
• Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
• Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.
• You will never find a lost article until you replace it.
• Everything goes wrong all at once.
• If everything seems to be going well, you’ve obviously overlooked something.
As we come to Nehemiah 4, everything seems to be going wrong all at once. In chapter one we looked at how Nehemiah prayed, in chapter two we saw how God moved him from the prosperity of Persia to the desolation of Jerusalem. Last week, we were introduced to the wall workers and discovered that in kingdom work, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. And, because some worked harder, and Baruch worked with more zeal than anyone else, the construction project was really zipping along.
But when we come to chapter 4, things start to get more complicated for Nehemiah. Mr. Murphy shows up and reminds Nehemiah that when everything seems to be going well, you’ve obviously overlooked something. That reminds me of a situation that took place several years ago in Darlington, Maryland. Edith, a mother of eight, came home one Saturday afternoon from her neighbor’s house, only to discover five of her youngest children huddled together in the living room intensely concentrating on something. As she slipped in behind them to see what they were doing, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Smack dab in the middle of her kids were several baby skunks. She screamed at the top of her voice, “Children, run!” So each kid grabbed a skunk and ran to their bedroom!
If anything can go wrong, it certainly will!
Did you know that there is a plague sweeping the country today? It’s not the Beijing flu, or cancer, or even the common cold. This outbreak, however, can be just as deadly as the most dreaded disease known to man it’s called the epidemic of discouragement. At least three things make it such a potent problem.
It’s universal. None of us are immune to discouragement. Everyone you have ever known has been discouraged at one time or another.
It’s recurring. Being discouraged once does not give you an immunity to the disease. You can be discouraged over and over again. In fact, you can even be discouraged by the fact that you are discouraged a lot.
It’s highly contagious. Discouragement spreads by even casual contact. People can become disheartened because you are discouraged. You can be bummed out because other people are discouraged.
This morning we’re going to focus on both the causes and cures for discouragement. Let’s begin by looking at the causes.
External Causes of Discouragement
There are two main types of discouragement one set of problems come at us from the outside, the other set attacks us on the inside. Let’s look first at the external causes. The wall workers were initially excited. They began the work with great anticipation and joy. It says of them in verse 6 that the “people worked with all their heart.” Things were going well, the people were excited, and the wall was going up. Then something happened.
Getting the work started on the wall was a major achievement, but keeping the workers working proved to be a much tougher assignment. Someone has said that exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you and right before you realize what’s wrong with it.
Where God is at work, the enemy is also at work. Rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was certainly no exception to this. When people take kingdom priorities seriously, Satan stirs up agitators to block the work of God. These enemies used two types of external forces.
1. The first one was ridicule. We see this in verses 1-2: “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews…”
This is the third time in the book that we come across Sanballat, who was Nehemiah’s stiffest opposition. Every time we read about him he is standing against the work of God, rejecting and ridiculing everything that Nehemiah is trying to accomplish. Someone has said that ridicule is the “language of the devil.” Those who can stand bravely when shot at will collapse when they are laughed at. The enemy often insults the servants of God. Goliath ridiculed David when the shepherd boy met the giant with only a sling in his hand (1 Samuel 17:41-47). The soldiers mocked Jesus during his trial and the crowd taunted Him while he was hanging on the cross (Luke 22:63-65, 23:35-37).