What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up #2
Sermon preached at State College Free Methodist Church
On Sunday, April 27,1997, by Pastor C. W. Marshall
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
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." 11Also 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." 12Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us." 13Therefore 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. 14After 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 brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
Series - Encouraging Words From God’s Word.
(2) What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up!
You know, I think, discouragement is perhaps mankind’s deadliest disease. It’s worse than polio, or MS, or Aids, because it is universal, it is highly contagious. If you are around someone who’s discouraged, you can get discouraged fairly quickly. But, thank God, it’s also curable.
I have heard it said that in professional sports, the pros never give up when they are in a slump. They just keep on playing the best they can until they ride it out. What do you do when you feel like giving up? Life has its ups and downs. Everyone has his or her “off” days. Maybe you have had an “off” week or an “off” month, and you feel like throwing in the sponge, and you ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
I think one of the reasons the Book of Nehemiah is in the Bible is because this story gives us the causes of and the cures for discouragement. Let’s look at it together - Neh. 4:6 “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah had led some Jews back to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon, to rebuild the wall to half its intended height.
Now look at verses 10 and 11: “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.’ 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.’”
Now in this passage we have four causes of discouragement. They got going on the project, but soon they began to get downhearted and discouraged. Why? There were four reason.
I. The Causes of discouragement.
1. The first cause of discouragement is Fatigue. Look at verse 10: “The strength of the laborers is giving out…” We just wear out. They had worked a long time and they were physically exhausted.
And people, when you are physically down, it’s hard to be emotionally and spiritually up. My counsel to a lot of people who are discouraged is simply this: “You just need to get some ‘R&R’- rest and recreation.” Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to go to bed.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of all us.” That’s true. It’s amazing how much better things look after a good night’s sleep.
Maybe you don’t need a change, maybe you just need a vacation. You know how farmers rotate crops, and they leave the land fallow - they actually rest portions of the land, because every farmer knows that land that has rested produces a more abundant harvest.
Do any of you know who Frederick W. Taylor was? You ought to thank him, because in 1898 he did the first scientific study which proved that at the work place people produce more if they have periodic breaks. So the next time you take a coffee break, remember Mr. Taylor with gratitude!
So when do fatigue and discouragement usually set in? Look again at verse 6: “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached (what?) half its height.” Fatigue and discouragement come at the midpoint. You have always got energy when you start! It’s a new project and you are working with all your heart; but after a while, when the newness of the project wears off, you are inclined to get bored; you start getting tired, and discouragement sets in.
Have you ever been doing yard work, and when you are about half way through, you realize you are tired, and you also realize that not only do you have to finish the job, but you have to clean up afterwards?! Fatigue comes at the midpoint, and that’s why many people never complete anything. So the first cause of discouragement is fatigue.
2. The second cause of discouragement is Frustration. Notice in verse 10: “The strength of the laborers is giving out” - that’s fatigue - “and there is so much rubble…” - that’s frustration.
They are talking about the litter, the debris, the trash that accompanies a building project. Those people were building the wall, and there were broken bricks and broken mortar, and all kinds of trash lying around, and it kept accumulating; and it caused them frustration because they were forever walking over it or around it; and perhaps someone stepped on a broken break and sprained his ankle! Did you ever live in a house that you are remodeling at the same time?!
Frustration the rubble that builds up! Let me ask you - do you have a job where the is never finished, and your desk is piled a mile high with stuff? If so, you know what frustration is like, don’t you?! And as soon as one project is completed, there’s another one crying out to be attended to. That is frustration, and it can be a cause of discouragement.
Have you ever notice how trash multiplies? It’s kind of like rabbits! And if you don’t clean it out periodically, it becomes a barrier to your main goal, and it will halt your progress. Now, you can’t avoid rubble, but you have got to be able to recognize it, and know how to clean it out and get rid of it; otherwise you will be perpetually frustrated.
Now, what is the rubble in your life. The rubble consists of the trivial things in your life that keep you from accomplishing your real goals - it could be anything. It takes an inordinate amount of your time. What are the time - wasters in your life?
Is it Fatigue, Frustration. There’s is a third cause of discouragement:
3. Failure. Look at verse 10: “There is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” What are they saying? They are saying, “We should never have undertaken this project in the first place. Who are we to think that we could ever finish this job?”
And they were unable to finish the wall in time they had set originally. They didn’t meet their deadline, and they got discouraged, and they gave up because they had failed. “We didn’t do it on time.”
Failure is the third cause of discouragement. Because they were unable to finish the task as quickly as planned, they lost heart.
4. There’s is a fourth cause of discouragement Fear. Look at verse 11: “Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us…we will kill them and put an end to the work.”
Now the background to the story is that there were numerous enemies who didn’t want that wall built, and they were doing everything they could to frustrate the plans of the rebuilders of the wall.
First they ridiculed or them, then they criticized them, and finally they threatened them - “we are going to kill you!”
Do you like to be ridiculed or unjustly criticized? Nobody likes to be frightened either. Who gets afraid? Notice verse 12: “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
The fact is, if you constantly live near negative people and listen to negative thoughts, you are going to be infected. Now what fears are causing you to be discourage this morning? - fear embarrassment, fear of failure, fear that you have to be perfect, fear that you are inadequate and won’t be able handle pressure?
How do you know if you are discouraged because of fear? Because you have an intense desire to run - to escape to Tahiti! “I’ve got to escape from the demands and the pressures that are crushing me!”
These are the common causes of discouragement, and once you identify your problem - is it fatigue, or frustration, or failure, or fear? - then you need to look at the antidote; and thank God, the antidote is right here in this passage too. So that brings us to
II. The CURES for discouragement.
1. Rest your body. The first thing Nehemiah did was to give everyone a little rest. As you read the whole chapter you find that Nehemiah gave them some holidays.
So the first step to take if you are discouraged is to rest your body. Let’s read Psalm 127:2 It's useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don't you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?
“God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest.” Some of you need to type that out and put it on you refrigerator door, or on your office desk! The Bible says, “it is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death.”
Look at Psalm 119:73 You made my body, Lord; now give me sense to heed your laws. That just means eat right, exercise, get your sleep, and relax.
2. Reorganize your life. Look at verse 13: When Nehemiah saw that the people were discouraged, he said, “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their sword and spears and bows.”
You know what he said? He said, “You people, go over here; and you folks, go over there; let’s all get together in little groups of families, and we’ll be support groups for each other.” And he didn’t give up on the goal of finishing the wall; he reorganized the people.
Now here’s the point. When you are discourage, often it does not mean you are doing the wrong thing, it may mean that you are doing the right thing, but you are doing it in the wrong way. And God doesn’t want you to give up on your dream. He just wants you to reorganize, and try a new approach.
You are going into debt: reorganize your budget. You are over committed: reorganize your time schedule. You are out of shape: reorganize your lifestyle, reorganize your eating patterns. Nehemiah effected a reorganization.
Maybe you need to reorganize your life and set some priorities. Make sure that you have time for the things that are most important – God, family, church. Make sure that those things are firmly embedded in your life plan.
Notice that Nehemiah grouped the wall builders by families. Why? Because we need each other. That’s why we need our church. Over and over again in the Bible it says “one another” - love one another, serve one another, help one another, care for one another, pray for one another, greet one another, encourage one another, exhort one another - 50 times in the New Testament we find that phrase - “one another” - because need support.
If you are acting like a Lone Ranger, you are going to get discouraged. We need each other. That’s why you need to be a part of a small group. Join a Bible study. Get involved, so that you have other people who are supporting you. “He stationed them by families.”
3. Remember the Lord. Look at verse 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the leaders and the people and said to them, "Don't be afraid! Remember the Lord who is great and glorious; fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!"
What’s he saying here? He’s saying, “Recommit yourself spiritually.” And for us that means, “recommit your life to Christ. Draw on spiritual resources. Get plugged in to heaven’s power supply.”
The Bible says that when David got discouraged, “he encouraged himself in the Lord.” (I Samuel 30:6).
Now what do you remember when you are discouraged? There are three things you need to remember:
· Remember God’s goodness to you in the past. Start making a list of all the
things that have been good in your life.
“Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
· Remember God’s closeness to you in the Present. He’s with you right now!
There He is with us always.
· Remember God’s power for the future. Over and over again the Bible is full of
promise like Deut. 33:25 and your strength will equal your days.
Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk anot be faint.
Look at Psalm 119:25 I am completely discouraged--I lie in the dust. Revive me by your Word. Revive me by Television, revive me by going to a good restaurant, or by buying things on a shopping spree, or by going to Redskins game, or by vacationing in Hawaii?
No - “Revive me by YOUR WORD.” If you want the quickest antidote to discouragement, get into this BOOK!
One of my favorite verses is Jonah 2:7 Jonah is at the bottom of the sea in the belly of a great fish, and he holds a prayer meeting! He says, Jonah 2:7 "When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord.
After that, it was no wonder that the fish made for shore and coughed Jonah up! But there’s a fourth thing you can do to defeat discouragement:
4. Resist the discouragement. Neh. 4:14 "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your
daughters, your wives and your homes."
He’s saying, “Don’t give in to discouragement without a fight! Don’t just roll over and play dead.”
There’s a fable about Satan and his cohorts who assembled one day to discuss the topic, “How can we neutralize Christians? They are born again; they are going to heaven; we can’t get them into hell; but how do we neutralize them so that they won’t grow in numbers?”
One demon said, “Why don’t we tell them that the Bible is a bunch of lies?” But everybody said, “That won’t work. They are smarter then that.” Another demon said, “Spread the rumor that prayer doesn’t work.” And they all said, “You’ve got to be kidding. Millions of them have had their prayers answered.” A third demon said, “I know the solution; let’s just discourage them!”
And Satan said, “That will work!” As Christians we are in a spiritual warfare. The Bible says that the devil is an accuser of the Christians. You know what “accuser” means. Satan is always saying, “You are not good enough; you are a failure; who do you think you are to call yourself a Christian?
Your nothing. Give up. Forget it.” And he would love to neutralize your effectiveness, and his favorite weapon is discouragement.
James 4:7 says, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. If you are discouraged it is because you are choosing to be discouraged.
Somebody asked a fellow one day, “What is your favorite Bible verse? And he said, “My favorite verse is, ‘It came to pass.’ And his friend said, “Why?” And he said, “Because when problems come, I know they don’t come to stay, they come to pass!”