Man, the lessons from Nehemiah never end! This is the sixth installment in a series on how to deal with discouragement. The last blog on the topic is here (and it has links to the other blogs).
I was REALLY discouraged a couple of weekends ago. In a hole. And Ezra and Nehemiah provide many lessons on how to deal with the people (and circumstances) that discourage you.
Sanballat is at it again. Nehemiah’s wall is almost built, but his enemy “intended to do me harm” (Nehemiah 6: 2) by lying to King Artaxerxes that “[Nehemiah] and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why [he is] building the wall.” (vs. 6).
How does Nehemiah address this attempt to frighten (vs. 9) the workers? He tells the truth! “No such things as you say have been done for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” (vs. 8)
AND, he prays (again!): “But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” (vs. 9)
But Sanballat NEVER gives up. He hires someone to convince Nehemiah that “they are coming to kill you” (vs. 10) and that Nehemiah should break God’s law and hide out in the temple.
But in this case, God gives Nehemiah insight (“And I understood and saw that God had not sent him…”) (vs. 12), so, once more, Nehemiah prays… and goes on to complete the wall.
Sometimes God helps us with our discouragement by revealing the reality or our situations – that they are not as bad as we think. Or that the discouraging words the evil one whispers in our ears – are lies!
When the wall is complete, the surrounding nations are now the ones who fear, because they perceive that “this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” (vs. 16b)
But Nehemiah does not stand idle – he prepares just in case discouragement should come once more. He takes precautions against the other nations by closing the gates of the city most of the day and setting up guards.
Even though the barrage of discouragement seems to be past, Nehemiah is prepared in case it comes again. He doesn’t let down his guard.
So, what did I learn about dealing with discouragement today?
- Focus on the truth (discouragement includes lies – like two weeks ago, all I could think about were my failures).
- Pray alot!
- Ask God for clarity and insight into the cause of discouragement
- Be prepared for the next bout of discouragement …
Dear Lord: Thank You for lifting my discouragement over the last two weeks – for the time off of work, too – and help me be more ready next time it comes. Amen.