nehemiah wall_final

 

Our Savior, when confronted with difficult tasks never gave up. He did not give in to fear. He never once stopped because of opposition. The Apostles never did either. Neither did the early martyrs of the church. And neither should we.

But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.

Thus in Judah it was said,

“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
Yet there is much rubbish;
And we ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.”

Our enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,” then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows. When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:9-14 NASB

 

So the opponents of God’s work in Jerusalem are angry. They were so mad that they conspired together to come and fight the Jews. These guys were ticked off and were willing to kill. Wow. What was their response to all this? They prayed.

But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.

They prayed and they took action. These guys took positive actions after they prayed. How often, when we are threatened by God’s opponents, do we pray first and then take action? We need to work on that, don’t we.

There are at least three things that cause discouragement in the ranks. These three are Fatigue, Frustration and Fear. When these three happen together the effect they have on discouraging God’s work is amplified. Lets take a look at what happened in Nehemiah’s situation and how we can apply that to ours.

How do you feel after a really difficult task? Are you fulfilled? Excited? Tired? Yeah, tired. Me too. Now think of being in the middle of a difficult task and feeling the same way. You look around and realize that there is still much work to be done. Do you suddenly feel more tired than before? Me too. Let’s take a look at the fatigue that had set in and how it affected the workers on the wall.

Fatigue

Verse 10 reads,  “Thus in Judah it was said, ‘The strength of the burden bearers is failing…'” Simply put, the workers were tired. They were hitting it hard and needed some rest. The phrase “giving out” carries with it the idea of “staggering, tottering, and stumbling.” These guys were tired with a capital “T”. And this is a major issue.

Whenever you or someone else is physically tired and drained, discouragement at the slightest problem comes quite easily. Why were they fatigued? Take a look back at verse 6:

So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height

That is quite a bit of lifting and placing heavy stones on a wall. We’d be fatigues and drained as well. Imagine the amount of work and energy required to achieve this goal. They had every reason to be tired.

Perhaps a contribution to their discouragement was that they were just halfway done. Their job remained unfinished and they were receiving threats and persecution on every side. They were pretty much done. They wanted to quit.

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever been so tired of doing what God has called you to do that you’re ready to just stop? I have. In the midst of trying and discouraging times, losing the focus of our labor is easy to do. When we forget that we work for God’s glory and not ours discouragement is not far behind. Take time to take a break from your work. Take time to recharge.

 

Frustration

Another contributor to discouragement is frustration. Verse ten continues by stating

…Yet there is much rubbish…

So not only do they see the half finished wall, but they also see the enormous amount of rubble lying around. There were broken rocks, dirt and other assorted debris. I can imagine it looks as messy as one of my children’s rooms!

When things are so messy we can sometimes lose sight of the job before us. What we can forget amid the frustration of the moment that, like these folks, in the process of working toward our goal the mess will as a result get tidied up. In Hebrews the author challenges us to strip off anything that would hinder us from running this race of life well. Our goal, like the goal of building the wall, must remain in the forefront. We need not be frustrated by the debris all around us. We also don’t need to keep the unnecessary impediments that we carry with us.

Whatever is entangling you – be it television, the internet or something else – and tripping you up, discard it and refocus your effort on doing the task that God has called you to do.

Fear

The enemies of the Lord’s work had struck fear in the hearts of God’s people and they felt like giving up.

Our enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,” then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows.

The workers had set their minds on what the enemies had said. And the enemies did not just say they would do harm – they marshaled an army against them. These workers were intimidated. They were fearful. And the fear they felt led to their discouragement.

Notice who grew fearful first:

When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,”

The Jews who lived nearest to the threat from the opposition grew fearful first. Being on the front line of any conflict has its costs. Fear is one of those costs. While it is normal to fear aggression, being disabled by that fear is not an option for us.

Are you on the front lines? Are you fearful of what the enemy has pledged to do to you? There are plenty of threats to biblical Christianity. We are routinely tarred with the charge of being ignorant, stupid, intolerant or some other insult. Stopping our work for the Lord is easy. We stop and the insults and intimidation stops. But, in the words of Buzz Lightyear, we should “Never give up. Never surrender!”

Our Savior, when confronted with difficult tasks never gave up. He did not give in to fear. He never once stopped because of opposition. The Apostles never did either. Neither did the early martyrs of the church. And neither should we.

Our task in life is to glorify God, not win a popularity contest with those who hate God. We glorify God by living out His word and completing the task placed before us. Our society is a mess. The rubble is all around us. We look around and the enemies seem to be winning. Their words try to discourage us and humiliate our actions. They threaten. They demean. The work of standing for Christ looks like it can not be accomplished. It looks too hard. We seem too tired. The enemies appear too numerous. Rebuilding seems just too hard…

Can someone hand me another rock?

 

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