Summary: Nehemiah was a motivational leader and knew how to battle discouragement among his people as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.

TEXT: Nehemiah 4

TITLE: What to do with Discouragement - Nehemiah

SERIES: When Life Gets Messy

TOPIC: Discouragement

OCCASION: Burnside Christian Church, November 15, 2009


INTRODUCTION: Good morning! As you probably remember, we are in a sermon series called When Life Gets Messy.

Because…when life gets messy…it becomes difficult.

So far in this series, we have addressed three messes that causes life to become difficult.

1. Stress

2. Failure


3. Negativity

Today, we will look at the mess of Discouragement. What exactly is discouragement? Despair. Hopelessness is how Webster’s defines it! It’s that feeling of “What’s the use????”


You may recall that the man Nehemiah was a leader of the Jewish group that had returned to Israel from Babylon to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

Usually, we associate Nehemiah with vision and with purpose. Because he undertakes a building project of enormous proportions and casts his vision to his people!

I mean this wasn’t a gate or fence around Jerusalem to keep the dog inside. These were WALLS to keep enemies at bay! Tall, thick walls!

And so Nehemiah oversees the important task of rebuilding these walls.

And when the project started, it was met with excitement, fervor, and zeal. But after working for a while, they became discouraged.

In chapter 4 of the book of Nehemiah, the people start out on a high note:

(vs. 6) “so we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half it’s height, for the people worked with all their heart.”

But as the story continues, the mood changes:

(vs. 10-12):

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall."

11 Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work."

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us."

And that’s usually when discouragement hits, isn‘t it? When you’re in the middle of it. It? What do you mean, ‘it’? WHATEVER OBSTACLE YOU ARE FACING…

The Israelites were ½ done with their project! But they looked around and thought, I still have so much work left to do! We’ve been working this long and have only gotten this much done…man…this is NEVER going to get finished!

You see, that’s what causes discouragement - Obstacles. And discouragement is: The overwhelming sense that what you are facing or about to face is too much for you to handle.

Some here today are discouraged by finances. You are in so much debt and you are stressed because you have collectors calling you trying to collect on the money that is owed. Your debt is bigger than you.

Some here today are discouraged by weight. They have tried to lose weight on their own. They’ve tried everything and nothing is working.

Some here today are discouraged by health problems. The disease you have is one that you have been battling a long time. Medicine no longer helps. Doctors are all out of answers. You don’t know what to do now, and so you are discouraged.

Some are discouraged by their job - their marital relationship - what they hear on the news…there are a LOT of things to be discouraged about.

T.S.: and so we need to learn about discouragement. What causes it. What cures it. In Nehemiah’s story, there are specifically THREE CAUSES of DISCOURAGEMEN and THREE CURES for discouragement.

First, the three causes of discouragement…

First cause of discouragement…

I. Depression caused by FATIGUE (vs. 6)

The people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out.” in other words, they had worked themselves to exhaustion. They were just plain worn out - physically, mentally, and emotionally - they were drained dry!

It’s no wonder. As we read verse 22, we learn of their grueling schedule -

(vs. 22) “At that time I also said to the people, ‘Have every man an his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.’”

When exactly were they supposed to rest? Have you noticed that a LOT of life’s messes are caused when we are tired and not well rested?

We are more prone to be stressed, to fail and to have a bad attitude when we are not well rested. And guess what, you are more prone to be discouraged when you are not properly rested as well!


In the past, I’ve had people come to me for counseling who are feeling discouraged and incorrectly think it is a spiritual problem. They say, “Maybe I just need to recommit my life to the Lord.” But the real problem is that they are just burned out.

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