I think discouragement is man’s most deadly disease because it is universal.
Not only is it universal but also it’s highly contagious. If you’re around somebody who is discouraged you can get discouraged fairly quickly.
But it’s also curable. Bill Russell once made a statement I’ve never forgotten.
They ride out a slump. They just keep on going. What do you do when you feel like giving up? Life has its ups and downs. Everybody has their off days. Maybe you’ve had an off week, month, or maybe even an off year. You feel like giving up and you ask yourself if continuing is really worth it.
I think one of the reasons the book of Nehemiah is in the Bible is this story gives us the cures and the causes of discouragement.
v. 6 “So we rebuilt the wall til all of it reached half it’s height for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah had led some Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. v 10 “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 it we will be right there among them and kill them and put an end to the work.’”
In this passage we have four causes of discouragement. Let me cover just a couple in this issue. They start– they got going on the project but they began to get the feelings of discouragement. Why? Four reasons:
1. FATIGUE. “The strength of the laborers is giving out.” v. 10. The number one cause of discouragement is FATIGUE. We just wear out. They had worked a long time. They were physically exhausted. They’re tired, weary, worn down. When you’re physically down it’s hard to be emotionally and spiritually up. My council to a lot of people with discouragement is just get some rest. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is just go to bed. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of all of us.” That’s true. It’s amazing how much better things look just after a good night’s sleep. Maybe you don’t need to change anything. Maybe you just need a nap.
Farmers rotate crops. They leave the land fallow. They actually rest portions of the land. Every farmer knows that land that has rested produces a greater harvest. You need periodic rest.
Frederick W. Taylor in 1898 did a scientific study that proved that at the workplace people produce more if they have periodic breaks — the coffee break. You just need to rest.
When does fatigue usually set in? When does discouragement set in? v. 6 “So we rebuilt the wall until all of it reached half its height.” Fatigue and discouragement comes at the midpoint. Everybody’s got energy when you start. It’s a new project, a new problem, and a new solution. But after awhile the newness of the project wears off. You get bored, tired and discouragement sets in.
It’s usually when you are halfway through the project that you get tired. You start to get discouraged because you start focusing on how much work is left and fail to focus on how far you have come or how much progress you have made.
Fatigue came at the midpoint, when they were half done. That’s when discouragement sets in. That’s why so many people never complete anything.
2. FRUSTRATION. This also is a cause of discouragement “… and there is so much rubble.” He’s talking about the litter, the debris, and the trash. Whenever you’re in a building project there’s rubble. Have you ever tried to live in a house that you’re remodeling at the same time? You know how frustrating that is!
How many of you have the kind of job where your work is never finished? You know what frustration’s like. You never quite get finished. As soon as you finish a minor project you’ve got others. Your work is never done. That’s frustrating and that can be a cause of discouragement.
Trash multiplies. It’s like rabbits. It’s over in the corner multiplying. It just gets bigger and bigger. If you don’t clean it out periodically it becomes a barrier to your main goal and it will halt your progress.
You can’t avoid rubble but you’ve got to be able to recognize it and know how to clean it out. Otherwise it keeps you from reaching your goal.
What is the rubble in your life? The rubble is the trivial things in your life that keep you from accomplishing your main goals. It may be television. It may be a relationship. It could be anything. It takes your time. Time wasters. Tomorrow I will share the last two tomorrow.
By Ron Corzine