Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. 7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. 10 In Judah it was said,] “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to 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 homes.” 15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” 21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.
Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. “I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to conquer Chicago.’ When I looked down, the suitcases were gone.”
Do you ever wake up in the morning and feel like your suitcases have been stolen right out from under you? Satan can’t steal our salvation, but he can bring our service to a stop and steal our joy if we let him. In this passage Nehemiah and the people are doing the work, they are rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah even admits in this chapter that it’s a great and extensive work. When you combine the element of past failure they had in trying to do this very work and add the ingredient of vehement opposition from without, you have a recipe for deep discouragement. As it says here, their strength was failing and they began saying it was impossible to finish the work. Then Nehemiah sprang into action to encourage the people.
It has been said that discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God. Discouragement must be defeated. How do we do it?
First of all Nehemiah led the people to pray. When we are down, all we need to do is look up to the throne of God and bring our burdens to Him. He gives us peace that passes all understanding when we praise His name and bring our hurt to Him in prayer. Secondly, they defeated discouragement through faith. Nehemiah stood boldly before the people and his enemies and said, “do not be afraid.” Fear is the direct opposite of faith; it is forgetting that God keeps His promises. When discouragement comes, we must remember the promises of God and stand on them. Thirdly, the people put their hands back to the work. We defeat discouragement also by keeping our proverbial nose to the grind stone for Jesus. Our security is found in Christ, but our satisfaction is also found in serving Him and others. If you’re discouraged, get out and serve others and things will begin to change. Lastly, we see they defeated discouragement through unity. Nehemiah told the people that although they worked apart from each other on the wall, anytime they heard the sound of the trumpet they could rally together and find strength. It’s supernatural–the strength we find when we rally together with one common purpose for Jesus. When you feel all alone just rally together with the church, share your struggles with those closest to you in the body and Christ and you will find strength.
So, are you discouraged? We all have seasons of life where we are down on ourselves, down on others, and even times where we are down on faith. Pray. Trust God. Serve. Stay unified. If we will follow Nehemiah’s example here we will find great encouragement in the battle.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, You know my heart and You know how discouraged I get sometimes. Lord, forgive me for losing that heavenly perspective. I know You are God and You are good and you are at work in my life for my good. I trust You Lord. In Jesus name, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.