Summary: Overcoming Discouragement
Between now and Easter we will be looking at the 10 most destructive giants in life. These 10 giants are issues we all face but if left unchecked can cause unnecessary damage and keep us from knowing and experiencing the fullness of God’s presence and purpose in our lives.
Today we are going to look at the second giant in our series and that is the giant of discouragement. I think Discouragement is one of the easiest giants to catch and also one of the most difficult to overcome. It is so easy for us to catch because discouragement is so highly contagious and easily transmitted. It does not matter if you have followed Christ for a year or fifty years every one of us is prone to attack. And once it gets a hold on your life it can drag you down into despair and eventually into depression.
But there is good news: Discouragement is beatable. Like every other giant in our series it has weaknesses and if we learn to guard our hearts well we can ensure that when the time comes we will be prepared to face it.
Now to do this we will look into the life of Nehemiah and seek to discover the causes and the cure for discouragement.
In chapter 4 Nehemiah was at a tough moment in life. God had given him a vision and a plan to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to renew the faith of the people. However like any project that God gives us, Nehemiah faced some huge obstacles. There were people that did not want to see God’s work completed, they did not want to see Jerusalem strengthen and they did not want to see the walls rebuilt. As a result they did everything in their power to stop it. They wanted Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem to become so discouraged by all their efforts that they would give up and surrender God’s plan.
In verse 6 the giant of disappointment appears and it comes at a very predictable moment. Read this verse with me…
“6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.”
Circle the phrase, “half its height.”
Isn’t that the way it always happens? Right when you come to the halfway point discouragement sets in. When we start something new our excitement and enthusiasm for a project/ for a relationship/ for our faith carries us forward. But then we come to the point of no return, we reach the mid-way point and negative thoughts begin. We begin to examine our progress. What once seemed possible now looks impossible, the results that at first encouraged us now appear small and insignificant, the help we had in the beginning has started to fade and the finish line seems more distant then when we began.
Discouragement loves the mid-point. It loves the point of no return – the place where you can’t start over and you can’t quit (because the cost of failure is too great). The point where your accomplishments don’t seem to match the energy or resources you have spent.
When it comes to our faith, once you make a new commitment to God (to pray or to give or to serve) and begin taking steps to fulfill God’s plan Satan is waiting to attack. In verses 10-12 there are four things Satan will use to cause you to be discouraged and to keep you from reaching the goal God has given you/ your full potential.
Let me give you a new perspective on this passage by reading from the NLT,
“10 Then the people of Judah began to complain that the workers were becoming tired. There was so much rubble to be moved that we could never get it done by ourselves. 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, "Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work." 12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, "They will come from all directions and attack us!"
Not a very encouraging scene!
1. The first cause of discouragement is FATIGUE due to a loss of strength.
The number one cause for discouragement is often fatigue. We are just too tired, too worn-out.
Many commentators believe that the reason the rebuilding of the wall caught so much attention was because of their initial success. Nehemiah put together a work force that was so well prepared and highly motivated it caught the attention of everyone watching. Their speed and efficiency was remarkable and news spread quickly, their enemies became afraid and sought to halt their progress.
The other result of their success was an overworked labor force. In their excitement to protect themselves they did not recognize that their speed could become their greatest enemy. They were physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. They did not plan for a time of rest.