Meanwhile, the people of Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” (Neh. 4:10 NIV)
Where do the roots of discouragement originate? Quite often discouragement within the ranks has its beginnings from outside pressures instigated by Satan and his henchmen. Discouragement is one of the key weapons in Satan’s arsenal. The other weapon is fear.
It was discouragement and fear that kept Israel from entering the Promised Land at Kadesh-Barnea. (Numbers 13) When the twelve spies came back from spying out the land to give their report ten of them said, “But the people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and very large. We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. (v. 28 and 31). The ten weak-hearted spies discouraged the hearts of the children of Israel. As a result, the people wandered in the wilderness for forty years until a new generation was born and prepared to go in and possess the land.
Why did discouragement and fear overcome the tribe of Judah? At least four reasons can be suggested:
(1) Some of the people, including nobles, were hobnobbing with the enemy. Cooperating with the enemy forces is paramount to treason. (Neh. 6:17)
(2) Some of the people were cooperating with the enemy because of mixed marriages. The ties of marriage were stronger than the bonds of commitment to the Lord. (Neh. 6:18)
(3) Some of the leaders were more interested in making money. Their devotion to the task was in question. (Neh. 13:15-22)
(4) Countless rumors (ten times) from outlying villagers warned of imminent attack. This caused undo fear in the hearts of the workers.
When we face a situation that creates fear and discouragement in our hearts, we need to do like Nehemiah and remind ourselves of our great and awesome god that we serve. If we walk by sight and view God through the problems, we will fail. That’s what happened to the Jewish people at Kadesh-Barnea. But if we look at the problem through the greatness of God we will experience confidence and success.
That was the approach David took when he faced Goliath. (1 Sam. 17:45-47)