Summary: We have the world figured out, the wind is at our back, and something goes wrong that deflates us. It's an age old problem, with an age old solution. We need to double down on God, and defeat that demon of discouragement.
Doubling Down against Discouragement
September 21, 2012
Nehemiah 4:1-23 (Background Passage)
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
10 In Judah, it was said:
The strength of the laborer fails,
since there is so much rubble.
We will never be able
to rebuild the wall.
11 And our enemies said, “They won’t know or see anything until we’re among them and can kill them and stop the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived nearby arrived, they said to us time and again, “Everywhere you turn, they attack us.” 13 So I stationed people behind the lowest sections of the wall, at the vulnerable areas. I stationed them by families with their swords, spears, and bows. 14 After I made an inspection, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes.”
Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. "I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, 'I'm going to conquer Chicago.' "When I looked down, the suitcases were gone."
Today in the Word, September 10, 1992.
Isn't that just the way it goes? We have the world figured out, the wind is at our back, and something goes wrong that deflates us. It's an age old problem, with an age old solution. Today we are going to double down on God, and defeat that demon of discouragement.
Let's look this morning on some of the reasons we get discouraged, and how we can avoid falling into the trap where discouragement defeats us.
From The Outside In
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
4 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious. He mocked the Jews 2 before his colleagues and the powerful men of Samaria, and said, “What are these pathetic Jews doing? Can they restore it by themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they ever finish it? Can they bring these burnt stones back to life from the mounds of rubble?”
The Israelites were flying high, the work on the wall was getting done and they were moving forward. They started it out with a great enthusiasm, but as time marched on it began to take a toll on them. Keeping the workers enthusiastic became a problem, much as it does in our own community of believers.
Where God is at work, the enemy wants to tear it down. Where the people of God are getting the job done, the detractors try to stop the progress.
A tool that is often used to discourage us is ridicule. Ridicule is debilitating, destructive, and difficult to defend against. It strikes us where we are most vulnerable, and for that reason is extremely effective.
Sanballat is consistent in his approach, as this is the third time we see him railing against Nehemiah and the Israelite workers. He continues to stand against the work of God, joking, and poking fun in an attempt to belittle and discourage those who are doing the work.
When his earlier machinations proved ineffective to keep the wall from being built he systematically orchestrated a campaign far more insidious than a brute force approached would have been. He first attacks their abilities, calling them pathetic and mocking their worth.
From there Sanballat and his surrogates ridicule the craftsmanship of the Jewish workers, claiming that even a small animal running across it will cause it to fall down. Then intention was clear, by making their work seem insignificant they could enhance any seed of discouragement that was planted in the fertile soil of discord.
While we may not be building nine-foot thick walls to protect our city from the hordes of marauding enemies arrayed against it, we do have important things we work hard at every day. We have our faith to live, or families to take care of, and a fight against evil to win.
The forces of the enemy continually conspire together against the workers of God. They have a vested interest in spreading discouragement among us. Warren Wiersbe writes, “God’s people sometimes have difficulty working together, but the people of the world have no problem uniting in opposition to the work of the Lord.”
When the darkness of discouragement begins to take hold we lose the urgency, we lose the zeal that allows us to continue to practice our faith in a world that is hostile to what we believe. We need to double down on God and defeat discouragement.