“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”– John 14:1.
Discouragement is a temptation, a common one. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind” (NIV) If we linger in discouragement it can be costly. It can sap us of our energy and dreams, and it can consume a lot of time. It can keep us from doing what we need to do because we don’t want to face it.
The book of Nehemiah illustrates how the enemy can discourage us, and how we should respond to discouragement in a way that prevents more damage and that moves toward healing our wounds.
Nehemiah was the man that God raised up to accomplish an important task – to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Despite all their efforts, however, they faced plenty of opposition from their hostile neighbors. Essentially they were saying that Jews were totally incapable of building the wall of Jerusalem when the Jews were working so hard every day under the blazing sun. Nehemiah’s response as given in vs.4-5: “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders.” These words were spoken to God, and not to those who had spoken against the Jews.
Nehemiah did not react at all to their criticism. He did not retaliate against the enemies with equal actions or words. Neither should you react when you receive criticism from others. You will also notice that Nehemiah pours out his feelings to God frankly and honestly, and then just rests his case with Him. Be content to know that God will deal appropriately with the ones who have criticized you unjustly in His own good time.
When you are discouraged, remember God’s promises. Nehemiah 4:15 says, “When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall.” Psalm 34:19-20 says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!”
The main application for you is to press on with whatever God directs you to do in your journey of life. Whatever difficulties you face, you must keep your morale high, because God is with you every step of the way. You can only accomplish so much on your own, but you can “…do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13).
- Have you ever become discouraged in some aspect of your life and thought about quitting? Think back on what made it so discouraging and how you dealt with it at the time.
- How can the story of Nehemiah help you deal with discouragement this week?