Don’t Lose Heart

Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas

Joke: In the jungles of Africa, a man was being pursued by a roaring, hungry lion. Feeling the beast’s hot breath on his neck, and knowing his time was short, he broke out into prayer as he ran like crazy, “O, Lord, please make this lion a Christian. Please make him a Christian!” Within seconds, the frightened man noticed that the lion had stopped chasing him. When he looked behind him, he found the lion kneeling and moving his lips in obvious prayer. Greatly relieved at this turn of events, he got close enough to the lion to hear him pray, “And bless, Oh Lord, this food which I am about to receive.”

INTRODUCTION

Have you found yourself anytime in a position where everything seems to be going wrong. Maybe you have started something very enthusiastically only to realize that there is no way ahead. Maybe your job or business is going from bad to worse, or maybe your relationships have reached to a point where there is no hope.

This morning we are going to see how to deal with discouragement.

Every one of us have been discouraged at one time or another and the problem with it is can we can be discouraged over and over again. Nothing can take the joy of life from us like discouragement and I believe the Spirit of God is a Spirit of encouragement and not discouragement. No matter what you are going through and no matter what you circumstances are, you do not have to be discouraged.

God burdened Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall around the city. After the king gave permission and required assistance for work, it sounded so easy for Nehemiah and he must have thought, “That’s a piece of cake! I can do that and be back here again as cup-bearer to the King in no time.” See what happened as they were building.

Nehemiah 4:1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews. Remember where God is at work, the enemy is also at work. When people take kingdom priorities seriously, Satan stirs up agitators to block the work of God. Now the enemy was angry and by the time we come to v10 the people are completely discouraged. 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.”

HOW DOES DISCOURAGEMENT START?

Discouragement always starts from the outside. You maybe focused, you maybe hardworking, and you maybe doing your best but the enemy does not want you to succeed and very often changes your external circumstances to discourage you.

Let us see how the people got discouraged building the wall. Nehemiah 4:1-2 1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 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?”

Sanballat was Nehemiah’s stiffest opposition. Every time we read about him he is standing against the work of God, rejecting and ridiculing everything that Nehemiah is trying to accomplish.

1. Ridicule or mock. Discourage by words.
It is my experience that when we are up to something, when we pursue our dream the enemy will bring people right into our path who will ridicule us. They may talk something sarcastically, they may give a dirty stare, they may laugh and mock at you, and this can discourage a sincere man’s heart.

Sanballat and his friends had begun to ridicule the workers even before the work started in. Now when the work had actually started he is making a speech before the army of Samaria, intensifying the power of ridicule. Sanballat called the workers “feeble” meaning “withered and miserable.” Next he ridiculed the job they were doing: “Will they restore their wall?” That must have made the Samaritan army break out into laughter. “Will they offer sacrifices?” Sanballat is saying that it will take more than prayer and worship to rebuild the city. “Will they finish in a day?” suggests that the workers had no idea how difficult the task was and would soon stop what they were doing. “Can they bring these stones back to life?” indicates that their building materials were so old and damaged that they couldn’t possibly be used to make a strong wall.

Now, it was Tobiah’s turn to ridicule the workers. Nehemiah 4:3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” Tobiah started joking on the workers. He said even a fox climbing up on it would break their wall. The workers became the punch line of every joke, and everyone got a laugh at their expense. Archeological excavations on these walls reveal that they were nine foot thick, I feel even an elephant could walk on it.

Friends, whenever you attempt to get involved in the work of God, you will always face ridicule. Remember, if you overcome the ridicule the enemy may come back even more powerfully at you but do not worry, we are on the winning side. Nehemiah 4:7-8 7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.When ridicule did not work the enemy decided to use force to stop their work.

2. Repression. Use force to discourage/pressure, physical pressure or mental pressure. Here enemies plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. Now the enemy was coming with force from all four directions – Sanballat and the Samaritans on the north, Ashdod on the west, Tobiah and the Ammonites on the east, and Geshem and the Arabs to the south. The workers were surrounded and lived in constant fear of being ambushed.

Now Nehemiah and his people are facing immense stress and opposition from outside. Pressures from outside often create problems within. External opposition can lead to internal discouragement. All these while the work was going excellent, there was good harmony inside the camp but suddenly now they are finding their work difficult.

Child of God, many of you are facing internal conflicts – it maybe within your family, it maybe in your ministry, in your job and you are so discouraged and down because of this. Understand the problem did not start inside, the problem is external. Therefore instead of fighting with one another, instead of fighting against flesh, fight against the enemy who is outside. Understand the source of your discouragement. The source of your problem is the devil and it is not man.

Now the people are discouraged. Nehemiah 4:10-12 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.”

Once the enemy takes the battle from the outside to the inside, the voice of the enemy will not be the most pervasive; it was the voice of God’s own people.

Who were the causalities of discouragement? It was God’s people. What suffered? God’s work. The Holy Spirit is sensing many people who are discouragement and disheartened today. Do not worry; the Holy Spirit is going to strengthen you.

WHO BECAME DISCOURAGED FIRST?

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.” It was the tribe of Judah who was discouraged first. Do you realize who Judah is? Judah is one of the 12 tribes of Israel who are the sons of Jacob. On his death bed, Jacob called his sons together and see how he blessed Judah: Genesis 49:8-10 8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. 9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? 10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

What Jacob was saying to Judah was this, “You will be the leader. You will be the winner. You are the chosen tribe to lead God’s people until the Messiah comes.” So if anybody ought to be leading out in the building of the wall around Jerusalem it ought to be the people of Judah. If anyone had to give the encouragement for the building was the people of Judah. But the first group to be discouraged was the Judah.

Remember the devil will only discourage the leaders because he knows if he can get you he can get others around you. If anyone hearing me discouraged, understand you are a leader. God has seen you as a winner. Rise up and start working God is with you.

SIGNS OF DISCOURAGEMENT.

I want to point out some symptoms that people generally have when they are discouraged. Nehemiah 4:10Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out.”

1. Fatigue. Loss of strength. When we are discouraged we feel tired, we lose the zeal. The strength of the laborers is giving out. They started out with tremendous enthusiasm, but now their strength is beginning to fail. The enemy tries to take away your zeal and strength.

Nehemiah 4:6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. They were half way through. Nehemiah and the children of Israel had the wall half finished, but they still had as much to do as they had already done, They were exhausted, tired and looking at the unfinished worked they were discouraged because they had no strength.

When you are physically drained, emotionally drained, it is very easy to become discouraged at the slightest problem. Maybe you are working a lot, maybe you are taking a lot of pressure in your family. Maybe you are emotionally and mentally drained. You cannot go on like this. You need to find strength and strength can come only from the Lord. If you’re feeling fatigued today, understand tiredness can lead to discouragement, renew your strength in the presence of the Lord.

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.”

2. Frustration. Frustration is another symptom of discouragement. The people got frustrated. They started looking at the rubble instead of looking at God. Frustration leads to loss of vision.

Do you get the picture? When they started out to build the wall there was a lot of rubble lying around. So they all pitched in and cleaned it up stacking the usable bricks & stones together and dumping off the rest. But as they mixed the cement and started laying the wall more rubble began to collect. Piles of unused cement and broken stones were lying everywhere. The result is that they begin to focus their attention on the piles of rubbish and not the work to be done.

Illustration: I suppose that’s a lot like being a mother with 2 children in diapers at the same time. Here’s a dirty diaper, there’s a dirty diaper everywhere there are mountains of clothes to be cleaned. When those children were born the mother had a vision of them growing up to be strong and successful and intelligent and beautiful but right now, all she can see are work load and stress and sleepless nights!

That is what was happening to Judah. They once had a vision of a completed wall, but now all they see are piles of rubbish, and rubbish is very depressing.

3. Fear. The enemies of the Lord’s work had struck fear in the hearts of God’s people and they felt like giving up. Remember what they said in verse 10 “We cannot rebuild the wall.”

Do you know who got afraid the quickest? Nehemiah 4:12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

Those most affected by fear are those who lived near pessimistic people. If you want to limit the depressing thoughts that bring fear into your life, if you want to keep discouragement way, do not hang around with negative people.

Fear puts us in a frame of mind where we cannot only become discouraged, we can also be deceived. If you really study this book, the enemies never attacked them, they were just threatening. Survey says that only 5% of our fears are real.

HANDLING DISCOURAGEMENT

Now we know some of the causes of discouragement – ridicule and repression. Discouragement can lead to fatigue, frustration, and fear. Let me tell you the Bible has ways to deal with discouragement. Let’s look briefly look at how Nehemiah handled discouragement.

1. Ask for Godly help.
Nehemiah didn’t give lectures to the workers or organize war against the enemies. Nehemiah prayed to God. When people talk against you, don’t talk back, talk to God. Nehemiah 4:4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.

Nehemiah was pouring out his frustrations to God. Seek God when you are discouraged. What he did next? Nehemiah 4:13 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.

He brought the people together in family groups so that they would be working together as families and placed them in strategic spots all along the wall that they were building. What were they doing until now? They had been scattered as individuals all along the wall – each one doing his job where they were. But there had been no sense of interdependence, working together as a unit, working in harmony and close association with one another. But now they were working together as families, helping and protecting each other.

2. Be united. If we need to tackle discouragement we need to be united. Families need to be united, husband and wife need to be united, children and parents need to be united, the church needs to be united. Now unity just does not happen by itself. People were working in different locations and they had to stop what they were doing and resettle themselves.

Unity is very important and if we are united the devil cannot do anything against us. That is why it is important for the entire family to go to one church. That is why it is important for families to pray together. That is why it is important to participate in church prayers and activities because it brings unity. You need to work to bring unity. Were they doing the construction of the walls earlier, yes, but it was independent. But now they have come together, everyone reworked themselves and started working together.

3. Reorganize your priorities. Nehemiah had already organized the people in chapter 3 and they had finished half of their task. Now, however, a new situation had come about that required a change in organization.

Nehemiah 4:16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The workers reorganized again by dividing responsibilities – half worked and the other half kept watch. If the enemies were going to attack they would most likely do so at the weakest places. So Nehemiah put guards at all the vulnerable spots. This served two purposes – it discouraged the enemy and it encouraged the people because it dealt with their fear.

When we’re discouraged, one of the things we can do is to reorganize our priorities. You can look at your life. You can adopt a change in approach instead of becoming so discouraged that you quit. Do you have a problem in your marriage? If so, don’t complain on your spouse! Change your approach. Adopt a new attitude. Get some help. Do you have a problem in your job? Don’t give up! Change your priorities. Do you have a problem in your walk with God? Don’t stop following Jesus! Reorganize your schedule so you can meet with Him on a regular basis. Plug into a small group. Don’t be overcome by discouragement. Do something about it!

4. Remember who God is. After looking everything over and sensing the discouragement within his team see what he did: Nehemiah 4:14 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 families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah knew, even in the face of opposition, that the success of the wall was wholly dependent upon God who inspired its beginning. Nehemiah knew the people could not rebuild the wall on their own. They needed to remember God and what He had promised. Remember His promises for you.

CONCLUSION

God wants to encourage you this morning. Don’t forget God when things are tough. He is always there for you. So, when you’re down, turn your attention from your discouragement to the One who is able to do something about it. God has been faithful to you in the past and he will continue to be faithful to you. Remember the Lord. Remember His promises. Remember His goodness. Remember His power. Our God is great and awesome! Remember Him.