The last few months have been unbelievable for me and my family. These people have died in my family: Father in law, father, close uncle, and now my mother-in-law who has only weeks to live. At times life can be overwhelming. We put in long hours, we experience a unique form of loneliness, and we face difficult decisions everyday. It’s easy to get discouraged.
And I think discouragement is one of the most deadly of diseases. Everybody can catch it, and you can catch it more than once. It’s highly contagious and spreads easily and quickly. But here’s the good news: Discouragement is curable. Nehemiah the great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement in ministry.
First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the labourers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be that you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.
Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around. So much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life and ministry? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the rubbish starts piling up? If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. Now, what is the rubble in your life? I think rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God’s called you to do. It could be computer games. It could be television. It could be just about anything that turns you from God’s purposes.
The third cause of discouragement is failure. They were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned, and as a result, their confidence went down the drain. They were thinking, “ We were stupid to think we could ever ever rebuild this wall.” You feel like a failure.
But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. The fact is –in life and ministry, you’re going to fail. Everybody fails. Everybody does dumb things. So the issue is not that you failed – it’s how you are going to respond to your failure. Do you give into self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining, “It’s impossible?” Or do you re-focus on God’s intentions and start moving again?
Finally, fear causes discouragement. Nehemiah 4:11, says this: “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 their work.’” You know there were people who did not want the wall to be rebuilt. They were doing everything they could to keep that from happening. First, they criticized the Jews, and then they ridiculed the Jews. When that didn’t work, they threatened the Jews.
Notice who gets fearful the quickest: “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, `Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’” (Nehemiah 4:12) The people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can. If you’ll just hang in there, you’ll outlast that carnal person who’s giving you so much trouble in your work or family. But it’s important that you stick it out. We refuse to get discouraged, because we are all serving the Lord and we are to make real a difference in our life, church and community.
Have a great week!