Summary: How to deal with discouragement in the Christian life.
Text: Nehemiah 4:1-23
Title- Overcoming Discouragement
We all face periods of frustration and discouragement. But we can overcome discouragement through God’s grace!
I. The Source of discouragement
a. Ridicule- 1-3
b. Open opposition- 7-8, 11 (security)
c. Fatigue- 10
II. The Antidote to discouragement
a. Prayer- 4-5,9
b. Action- 6, 9, 13-14
c. Team work- 15-23
Let me read something to you…Excerpt from “Hand Me Another Brick” Pg 79
Sometimes in life things can go from bad to worse real quick.
Have you ever noticed how sometimes things start out as a challenge, and quickly become a big problem? Have you ever started a project that you thought would be a piece of cake, and it ended up taking you a lot longer and costing a lot more money than you thought? I have a knack for underestimating projects. It seems easy, but when I get into it, it gets tricky.
Anytime you work with plumbing, electrical systems, or anything on an old house, you are just about guaranteed to get more than you bargained for. Last summer I started the project of painting the exterior of my house. I’ve done a lot of painting in my time and didn’t think it would be too big of a chore to pound it out.
What I think I failed to realize is that back in the day painting and fixing things was my full time job, now I have another full time job…and three kids. So I now have a house that’s about 1/3 painted. I have to wait until spring before I can finish.
Who hasn’t found themselves mired halfway through a project and fighting frustration and discouragement? This isn’t just true for maintenance projects, it also happens in life. So many people go through that period of frustration and discontentment that they’ve even given it a name- mid-life crisis.
Bouts of discouragement and depression can be brought on by a lot of things. Some of the most common causes are things like economic trouble, stress at work, relationship problems, changes in the weather, a poor diet, illness, and the loss of a loved one.
How many of you have can relate to one or all of those things?
It’s no wonder depression is on the rise. We live in some discouraging times. Even as believers in God, we still face these same hardships and frustrations. We are no less vulnerable to these attacks. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we won’t have to deal with discouragement. The difference is that we have some important and even essential tools for dealing with discouragement.
When trouble comes, how do we deal with it? When faced with significant hardship how do we respond? What are the tools that we use to keep going, even when we all we want to do is curl up in a ball and suck our thumb?
In Nehemiah chapter 4 we read about a case of discouragement that threatened to stop the work of rebuilding the wall. The people there had a lot to encourage them- a commission to rebuild the wall from the king, the leadership of the cupbearer to the king, a renewed excitement and enthusiasm. They were ready to get to work and got the job done.
But in chapter 4 a number of things led to frustration, discouragement, and delay. These are the same kinds of things that we as Christians will deal with in one form or another from time to time. The tools that they used to overcome their discouragement are the same one that we need to employ.
The first thing that they had to deal with is ridicule. Look at verses 1-3 with me…
Wow, these are some pretty strong words. Sanballat calls the Jews feeble. He asks, do they really think they can rebuild the whole wall themselves? It was a huge job. Like we saw last week, it took everyone banding together to get the job done. It was no small task.
And the Jews were feeble. There was just a remnant living there. They weren’t strong, or wealthy, or very well equipped to accomplish such a difficult job.
Next he says. Can they offer sacrifices? Do they think their God will help them? This isn’t just mocking the people, but mocking God. He mocked their ability to worship and offer sacrifices to God. Sanballat might have been right about the Jews being weak and feeble, but he grossly underestimated the ability of their God.
He says, can they finish in a day? In other words, don’t they know how hard the job is? They don’t understand just how much work needs to take place.
Can they revive those old, burned stones? Can they rebuild with rubble? Again, Sanballat was right. They materials that they had to work with weren’t the greatest. But there were still plenty of useable stones to get the job done. It wasn’t going to be easy, but it wasn’t impossible.