How to overcome discouragement
By Rick Warren
— August 22, 2010
Then the people of Judah said, "The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can't continue to rebuild the wall." Nehemiah 4:10 (GWT)
"When you don't reach a goal on time, just set a new goal. Don't give up."
Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.
First, you get fatigued -- You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We're human beings and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you're discouraged, it may be you don't have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.
Second, you get frustrated -- Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?
If you don't clean it out periodically, it's going to stop your progress. You can't avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don't lose focus on your original intention.
What is the rubble in your life? I think rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God has called you to do.
Third, you think you've failed -- Nehemiah's people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, "We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall."
But you know what I do when I don't reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don't give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does foolish things. So the issue is not that you failed - it's how you respond to your failure.
Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it's impossible? Or, do you refocus on God's intentions and start moving again?
Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged -- Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you're going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you've got to get away from negative people as much as you can.
Maybe you're discouraged because of fear. You're dealing with fears like, "I can't handle this. It's too much responsibility." Maybe it's the fear that you don't deserve it. It's the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, "God help me get my eyes off the problem - off the circumstance - and keep my eyes on you."