Well, unfortunately, as Nehemiah’s enemy conspiracy spreads, discouragement starts to set in among his people. Ever encountered that phenomenon in your ministry? Where the talk among the people seems out of control? Nehemiah 4:10, 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.
They’re physically losing strength. They are worn out. By the way- do you recall how far Nehemiah tells us they had gotten at this point? Halfway done! Isn’t that so often the most discouraging point in a major project?
When we moved to another house about 5 years ago, I remember getting to what I figured was about the halfway point of the packing up process and thinking, “Holy cow, there’s still so much to do and I’m already worn out!” I told my wife that I didn’t think it was God’s will for us to move. But she reminded me that my Teddy Bear was already packed and she wasn’t getting it back out until we got to the new house! Halfway can be discouraging! Vince Lombardi said, "Fatigue makes cowards of all of us."
They were tired. And, they also started losing their vision. Notice they said, “there is so much rubble … ” I’m guessing when they first got started that they rarely even thought about how much rubble there was. But, when the opposition is mounting and your strength is fading, it’s easy to get discouraged and start focusing on the rubble instead of the vision. Are you focusing on the rubble or on the vision in your life?
Then they also start to lose their confidence. At the end of v. 10, notice, it’s not their opponents but themselves who say, “we cannot rebuild the wall.” The people who started with such a heart for the work now are losing heart.
And then they lose their sense of security as well! V. 11, 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.”
The opposition is using a scare tactic- a terrorist tactic- spreading the word by making sure as many of the Jews as possible are overhearing or being directly told their surprise attack plans, “Hey, we have a plan and you don’t know what it is, just be assured, when you least expect it, bam! We’ll get you so fast you won’t even know what happened.”
V. 12,Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” It was turning into mass hysteria! “The CLOWNS are coming! Wherever you turn, CLOWNS are going to attack us!” (Did that happen in your community recently? J)
When you lose your strength and vision and confidence and security- you get discouraged!
At this point Nehemiah must’ve felt a bit like that running back trying to stay on his feet at this point. He hits the hole at full speed and bam- he’s stopped, he spins out to his left and bam- he’s stopped again, he shakes loose and spins out to his right and bam, he’s stopped there, too. He’s still on his feet, but it’s sure looking like no gain at this point, or maybe even being thrown for a loss!
With so much discouragement, what is he to do to get everyone back on track rebuilding the walls??? We’ll discover the answer to that in my next posting!