Summary: Discouragement has terrible timing. Discouragement always shows up unannounced. But we can overcome it AND we must.
Nehemiah 6: 1-16
A funny thing happened in a town in Maryland …. a woman named Edith, a mother of 8 children was coming home from a neighbor’s house one Saturday afternoon. As she walked into the house she saw 5 of her youngest children huddled together, focused intensely on something in the circle. As she got closer to them, trying to see what was the center of their attention. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Smack dab in the middle of the circle were several baby skunks. So she screamed at the top of her voice; kids run! So each one promptly grabbed a skunk and ran to their room. ?
Like that mom we often have no idea how complicated life can get. Things had definitely gotten complicated for Nehemiah. He was receiving opposition from all sides. And at times from places where he least expected it. Let me ask you … do you ever feel discouraged? Of course you do. The bigger question is when you do, what do you do with it? How do you fight it? Have you ever noticed that discouragement never comes at a good time? It’s usually when we’re operating on overload, we’re too busy, too many items on our “to do” list. It is a fact that leaders/busy people will often have to stop and deal with discouragement. And that is what happened with Nehemiah. Discouragement came at a pivotal/critical time in his life. He was nearly finished with the most significant project Jerusalem had seen in years. The wall was about to be finished. And that is when discouragement set in. Listen
Discouragement has terrible timing.
Discouragement always shows up unannounced.
Verse 1 tells us this attack of discouragement occurred when they were almost finished rebuilding the wall. Almost ready for the ribbon cutting ceremony and discouragement sets in. It always comes when we least expect it. The apostle Paul said “so be careful.” If you are thinking, Oh, I would never give in to that” let this be a warning. For you too may fall into sin.”
Let me give you something to think about here. Often it is not the person who has almost fallen who is the most likely to fall. It is the person who thinks he will never fall. Pride comes right before a fall. Look at what scripture teaches us.
• David and Bathsheba. David, up to that time has not really known much besides victory. He killed the lion and the bear. He killed Goliath. He had never been defeated politically. Never been defeated in war yet it was Bathsheba that was his downfall. And that was when he became very discouraged. Up to that time things were great for David.
• Jonah preached and the city repented and then Jonah became discouraged.
Time and time again when things were going well, discouragement set in. You may have seen this as well in your own life. Everything is moving along --- life is good and seemingly out of nowhere discouragement sets in. Nehemiah was already planning the dedication service for the wall and that’s when the enemy attacks. There is a truth here we really need to pay attention to … one we don’t like ….
Often we will face a test.
We forget that God allows them to happen.
God allows them for a purpose.
His purpose was to strengthen Nehemiah.
We sometimes see the demands in life and we think you know what, I’m just walking away … you know what you can have it … I’m done. But Nehemiah said I’m following God. And that’s when the attack came. This is what happened. 1st of all there was a personal request … it seemed innocent, harmless. In fact it seemed like something he ought to consider. Look at vs. 2. The plain of Ono was located about 20 miles North of Jerusalem … it was a beautiful valley. They said, Nehemiah, you need to get away for a while, you’ve been working too hard … Let’s get together and go to Ono. And Nehemiah said Oh No I’m not going there. Why? Cause they’re planning to harm me. V. 2 Now how did he know? Not sure except that often leaders have a gift of discernment --- like a 6th sense --- you see something on the horizon that others don’t and you say something’s wrong. We can’t go there. Discernment is a wonderful thing because it allows you to read between the lines. “They were planning to harm me so I sent messengers to them saying I cannot come down.”
You see there is a difference in being available and in being a puppet. A huge difference. Some of us never know how to say no. Because when you say no, the next question is always why? You tell your kids or your grandkids they can’t do something and what do they say? Why? One of the marks of maturity is the ability to say “no” without giving an explanation. Sometimes you just sense this is not the right thing to do. Look at verse 4. “They sent that message to me 4 times.” Did you get that note? Did you get that memo? Did you get my other note? But each time Nehemiah gave the same answer. V. 4 I answered them in the same way. Nehemiah refused to be intimidated. Leaders have to learn to stand up for what they believe. Look at v. 5. Then, Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a 5th time. This time it was an open letter. Like a petition. Open for everyone to read. And it’s basically a threat. Vvs. 6-7.