Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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30 – Dealing with difficult and discouraging days – Part 4

Nehemiah 4:1-20

Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, 2 saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!” 4 Then I prayed, “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! 5 Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders.” 6 At last the wall was completed to half its height around the entire city, for the people had worked with enthusiasm. 7 ut when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious. 8 They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. 9 But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. 10 Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.” 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.” 12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!”[e] 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” 15 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. 16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm. 19 Then I explained to the nobles and officials and all the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!”

After seeing both the external and internal causes of doubt and discouragement now Nehemiah introduces us to the:


It’s here that we discover that God’s Word doesn’t just deal with the disease of doubt and discouragement, it shows us how to defeat doubt and discouragement. The good news is that you don’t have to cope with discouragement because there is a cure. The first thing we are reminded of in defeating doubt and discouragement is to:

  1. Request God’s Help

Discouragement distracts us, so how does Nehemiah regain focus, where did Nehemiah go with his problems? In verses, 4, 5, and 9 we see that he took his problems and wrapped them in prayer. Nehemiah didn’t give lectures to the workers, organize raiding parties against the enemies, or create propaganda campaigns to put a different spin on things. He didn’t work he worshiped, the antidote to worry is worship. Worry gives priority to the problems, where worship gives praise to the Provider. It’s here that we come to the building block of FAITH. What are you going to fall back on in the frustrating and fearful times, your work or His? When people talked against him, he didn’t talk back he talk to God. Who or what are you trusting in? Prayer is really a transfer of trust, where we stop holding on and hand it over to God. Do you believe that He is bigger than your battles, more powerful than your problems? This is not only trusting in God’s ability but also His timing. Do you want peace in the midst of difficult and discouraging times, then stop panicking over the problems and start praying? Where do you need to transfer trust from self to the Savior? You can either waste your life on worry or invest your life in worship? Worry is problem focused, worship is power focused. The second cure for doubt and discouragement is:

  1. Reorganize your life and priorities

We see this in verse 13 where the people didn’t just pray they also prepared. Nehemiah had already organized the people in chapter 3 and they had finished half of their task. Now, a new situation had come about that required a change in organization. Nehemiah didn’t give up on the goal, he just reorganized the people and put them in their proper places. If the enemies were going to attack they would most likely do so at the weakest places. So Nehemiah put guards at all the vulnerable spots. This served two purposes, first it discouraged the enemy and second it encouraged the people. When we’re discouraged, one of the things we can do is to reorganize our priorities. You can look at your life and you can adopt a change in approach instead of becoming so discouraged that you quit. Do you have a problem in your marriage? If so, don’t bail on your spouse, choose to change your approach. Adopt a new attitude, get some help. Do you have a problem in your walk with God? Don’t stop following Jesus! Reorganize your schedule so you can meet with Him on a regular basis. Don’t be overcome by discouragement. Do something about it. I love that Nehemiah started with prayer, because prayer influences our priorities. Prayer causes us to put God first which causes us to reprioritize other areas of our lives. Unfortunately, many of us go to prayer as a last resort to our problems, saying things like I guess all we can do now if pray! Prayer is not the backup plan it’s the game plan. What do you need to bring to the Lord in prayer today? What priorities need to be changed so that your life is in line with God’s plan?