Discouragment

Nehemiah 4:10 “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.”

As I was praying about what to write next by way of a blog article, I was reading through Nehemiah when I came across the chapter and specifically the verse above.  I knew this was a word in season for those who may be weary or discouraged.  I pray it will encourage you and that your heart and hands will be strengthened to continue on in the work or task God has called you to.

We have all been there.  Perhaps you are there right now.  You feel like you’re at the end of your rope and that the task at hand is too overwhelming.  You feel there is too much rubble to clear out to even begin “rebuilding the wall.”  I have felt this way so many times in so many areas of life.

In Nehemiah, this wasn’t the only thing overwhelming or discouraging the Jews who had returned from Babylon to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore the city after years of laying in ruins.  They had an incessant enemy who was constantly trying to intimidate them, discredit them, mock them and discourage them.

Chapter 4 begins this way: “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble — burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building — if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”

Whenever we set out to restore or rebuild something that has been destroyed by the enemy, Satan will oppose and fight against us.  He doesn’t sit idly or passively by when people set their hearts to do the work of the Lord.  He will try all kinds of manipulative and intimidating tactics.  Here he was mocking them and trying to make them feel weak, incapable, helpless, powerless, and as though their work was not good enough or significant or would ever be accomplished or doable.

Ever feel this way?  Feeling this way right now?  Don’t give in!  1 Corinthians 15:57-58 reminds us of this:  “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Do what Nehemiah did.  He prayed (Nehemiah 4:4-5) and the people continued on with the work with ALL their heart! (Nehemiah 4:6).

But this only made the enemy madder.  Nehemiah 4:7-8 says:  “But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.” But Nehemiah tells us in the next verse that once again they did not back down or give in:  “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.”  (Nehemiah 4:9).

But this was when the enemy countered again with what we began with. And this is when the people begin to lose heart and get discouraged. Nehemiah 4:10-12 says:“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.” 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.” Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

The laborers (the workers, the servants) were growing weary.  The people were growing discouraged over the amount of rubble.  The enemy appeared to be closing in on them, surrounding them on every side and about to succeed in aborting the whole project.  But Nehemiah 4:13-14 says that Nehemiah did and said this: “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

Don’t be afraid.  Remember the Lord (who is great and awesome!) and fight for the future of your children.  Don’t give up!

Galatians 6:9-10 says:  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

God told Joshua something similar in Joshua 1:7-9 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Read the last part of that last verse again: “…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Remember the first part of what we read earlier in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Nehemiah encouraged the people: “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…” (Nehemiah 4:14).

Stand firm and let nothing move you (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9).

Do not be afraid (Joshua 1:9).

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58).

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9).

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church, right before he closes, he singled a particular man out and wrote this in Colossians 4:17 “Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”

See to it that you finish what God gave you to do. See to it that you persevere in what God has called you to do. Don’t quit!  Don’t give up! Don’t be discouraged!  Be strong and courageous! Be strong and very courageous!

I have a feeling that not only are many believers battling discouragement right now, but I know many believers and even churches have fallen asleep due to discouragement.  One of the things Jesus said to the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-3 was this (and this is something He is still saying to many today!)  “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.”

The task before you might seem daunting or overwhelming.  The rubble may seem endless.  Rebuilding the wall may seem hopeless.  The enemy may be taunting.  You may feel discouraged and defeated.  It may be easier and more comfortable to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head and fall asleep.  Don’t do it!  Don’t give in!  Stay awake or wake up!

What you need to do is not focus on your ever-changing and uncertain circumstances but on the never-changing and always certain character of God!  Fix your eyes on Christ who is faithful! (Hebrews 3:1-8).  Pray to God.  Submit yourself to God.  Resist the enemy.  Stand firm in the faith.  Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).

1 Peter 5:6-9 says:  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”

James 4:7-8 says something similar:  “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

What in your life seems overwhelming to you?  What are you discouraged in or over?  What are you thinking about quitting or giving up that God called you to?  Don’t do it!  Persevere!  Fight the good fight of faith! Call on the name of the Lord!  Strengthen yourself in Him.  Rest on and stand on His promises.  Keep working.  Keep laboring.  Keep serving. Keep trusting.  Keep going.

Recognize the tactics and schemes of the enemy.  Nehemiah recognized again and again the tactics of the enemy.  In Nehemiah 6:9 he says: “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

And then he says He did this in response: “[But I prayed,] “Now strengthen my hands.”

Ask God to strengthen your hands and steady your heart.  He will do it for His glory.  Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 this reminder: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

God promises this in Isaiah 41:10-14 (and make it personal and applicable to your life in the things God has called you to: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”

Press on!

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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