Summary: This sermon looks at 4 reasons for discouragement and 4 ways to handle it: 1. FATIGUE 2. FRUSTRATION 3. FAILURE MENTALITY 4. FEAR 1. RE-EVALUATE Your Goals 2. REALIZE You’re Not Alone 3. Be READY to Fight 4. REMEMBER The Lord
How To Handle Discouragement
A few weeks ago I spoke about depression – today I want to speak about discouragement. When I think about depression – I would view it as a great pit – one that would take a massive amount of energy to escape. When I think about discouragement however – I would view it as a mud-puddle – one that probably all of us have walked through at one time or another. That is not to say that discouragement is any less damaging than depression. The problem arises when we live in the mud-puddle on a daily basis – it can ruin your life.
All of us need a certain amount of courage to make it through this life. But how often have you been discourage to try something? Someone will say, “O you could never do that.” – and so you don’t try.
But did you know that discouragement is extremely dangerous? Let me tell you why:
First, because it’s universal. It is found around the world. We all get discouraged. I do, you do, we all do. Discouragement is common and because it is common we don’t realize how deadly it can be.
Second, because it’s recurring. You can get discouraged one day and overcome it – yet tomorrow you’re in the same boat – discouraged again. It’s not just a one-time thing.
Third, because it’s highly contagious. Other people are discouraged and so you get discouraged. And because you’re discouraged other people get discouraged. It turns into a vicious cycle.
Perhaps that is why the Bible says:
“Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today." Hebrews 3:13a (NASB)
Discouragement can be devastating – but the good news is that discouragement can be overcome.
A story from the book of Nehemiah illustrates the danger of discouragement. You recall that Nehemiah was a leader of the Jewish group that had returned to Israel from Babylon to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. They had a lot of energy and excitement. But after working awhile they got discouraged and to make matters worse other people started talking about them. Let’s pick up the story at that point:
“Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?" Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, "Even what they are building--if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!" Neh. 4:1-3 (NASB)
Those are words of discouragement – aren’t they? The people had returned to Jerusalem with all kinds of energy and enthusiasm. But people start talking – don’t they? They start criticizing. All this talk – all this criticism has it impact. The small group of Jews got about half way done with the wall and here is what they said:
"The strength of the burden bearers is failing, Yet there is much rubbish; And we ourselves are unable To rebuild the wall." Our enemies said, "They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work." Neh. 4:10-11 (NASB)
From this passage of scripture I see four reasons that the people got discouraged.
Four Reasons For Discouragement
The first reason is fatigue. The people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out.” In other words they had worked long hours over a long time and were physically exhausted. They were just plain worn out – physically and emotionally drained.
Have you ever been tired – I mean really tired. When I get that way I don’t want to do anything. I am burned out. I need some rest – relaxation – renewal. Sometimes the best thing I can do if I’m tired and discouraged is get away from it for a while. Leave it alone. Don’t think about it. Go to bed. Take a break. Take a nap. Come back to it when you’re refreshed.
I don’t know about you – but I am a morning person. I usually get up before five each morning. That’s the time I can get most of my sermon work done. I’ve had a good night sleep – I have lots of energy to face the day – I’m ready to get up and get busy. Morning time works best for me. But I’ll tell you this – if I had to work on my sermons late at night – we all would be in a lot of trouble. My mind does not work very well when I get tired. When fatigue hits me – it hits me hard. Rest can do wonders for the body – soul – and spirit.