Slaying the Giant of Discouragement – Nehemiah 4:1-18

The Bible has a lot to say about discouragement. There are other similar words used such as “faint” or “lose heart”. See Corinthians 4:1; 4:16. We can be discouraged by the diminishing of the outward body but should be encouraged by the growth of the inward spiritual body. Many great men and women in the Bible had to deal with discouragement, such as Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Nehemiah. One of the great examples in found in the life of Nehemiah. Nehemiah sets out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and faces increasing opposition. It is halfway through the project that the enemies intensify their opposition and discouragement hits the people.


1 – Recognising discouragement (vs. 10-12)


There are a number of factors that were the cause of this discouragement.

  • Fatigue – They had been working practically non-stop for a month on this wall and the people are tired. Tiredness makes cowards of us all. It is easier to get discouraged when you are overcome with extreme tiredness. The attacks were harder to overcome. As we get older we need to pace ourselves. We need to build in days of rest.
  • Frustration – There was so much rubble and rubbish everywhere. It was difficult to see the end result. They were getting burnt out by the frustration of rubbish removal and couldn’t see any improvement.
  • Failure – They were convinced that things were not going to work out. They were afraid they were going to fail in the end.
  • Fear – They are told time and time again that they are going to be killed if they don’t stop. The enemies are seeking to spread fear among the builders as they build. They are going to pick them off one by one.

2 – Responding to discouragement


The Bible does not leave us alone.

  • Cry out to God – It should be the first thing that we do instead of the last thing we often do! See Nehemiah 4:4 & 9. The first place to look is up! Ask God to help you deal with the issues. We see this action throughout the Psalms.
  • Continue with the work God has given you to do (vs. 6) – We usually stop when we get discouraged. We are to keep on going! Nehemiah wouldn’t let his enemies distract him from his work. They could try to do their worse but Nehemiah would keep on working! There was nothing to discuss! The time you feel like doing it the least is the time when you need to do it the most. It is like exercise! We can’t let our feelings rule over us. Keep on working! When we feel like bailing we need to keep on building. When we feel like walking we need to keep on working.
  • Concentrate on the big picture – These people were walking on little sections of the wall and they found it hard to get any perspective. When you can only see what is going on in your life then you can become easily discouraged. Nehemiah does something to overcome this. (vs. 13-14). Fear and discouragement is experienced by us one at a time. Nehemiah rallies them around so that they got the bigger picture. We can lose sight of God’s purposes and we get out of perspective.
  • Claim the Encouragement of God’s Promise (vs. 15) – There are times when you need to get your Bible out and start reading it. You may not feel like it. You sometimes have to force feed yourself! Say it out loud if you have to do it. There are many verses that give us encouragement. See Psalm 46:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:13 and Galatians 6:9. You can get discouraged even when doing good works! Claim the promises of God’s Word.
  • Carry Somebody Else’s Burden (vs. 16-23) – People are helping each other. They are carrying swords for protection and working. They are taking it is shifts and watching out for each other. Alone they can be picked off, together they are strong. They were carrying one another’s burdens. When you are alone you can fall prey to pity. You can help one another. We all have different skills and talents. We are not meant to cover our burdens alone. Help is necessary when the burdens of life are heavy. The enemy can get a foot in our life when we try to go it alone. If we help one another, then the enemy is afraid to attack. We are to help and encourage one another. We all need words of encouragement and someone to share the burdens of life so we can experience joy. Don’t be an isolationist. Be a friend to those who try to go it alone in pain.