May 29, 2020
By Skip Heitzig
An old story goes that some demons once asked the Devil what his most potent tool was to stop mankind from doing God's will. The Devil told them it was discouragement. He said if he quit using every other tool at his disposal, he could still stop the work of the Lord if he was able to depress and discourage God's people. Now, that story isn't biblical and it's very simplistic, but it points to an important truth: discouragement can be a very effective tool of the Enemy.
In Nehemiah 4, the Jewish people and their leader, Nehemiah, were surrounded by enemies as they rebuilt the city walls of Jerusalem. These enemies ridiculed the work the Jews had already done, and they were planning an attack on top of that. Between the toil and the danger, the people were bone-tired. They saw the immensity of the task of rebuilding, and they were becoming discouraged.
Life is like that. When you come to Christ, your problems aren't automatically taken care of, like you might hear some Christians claim. Discouragement comes up, and believers aren't immune to it. Not only that, but discouragement and fear in the ranks is a contagious thing; negative people tend to bring down others with them.
The Jewish people were thinking that the job before them was too big, and they were ready to quit. But just as fear is contagious, so is faith. Read Nehemiah's word of encouragement in verse 14: "And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, 'Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.'"
Nehemiah rallied the people together, and they returned to the work. And get this: they worked out a system where half of them worked while the other half stood guard in full armor, and the workers had their swords strapped to their sides (see vv. 15-18). They were builders, but they were also fighters.
Are you getting tired and discouraged as you work for the Lord? Is some task or situation weighing you down, making you feel depressed or alone? I think some of us need to rally together, lift one another up, and get our marching orders from our Commander today. We need to remember that it's His battle, that He's in charge, and that because of that, we can have confidence that He "will fight for us" (v. 20).