How to Overcome Discouragement
By Rick Warren
“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 (GW)
Discouragement is curable. When I get discouraged, I head straight to the book of 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: “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’” (GW).
Human beings wear out. You can’t burn the candle at both ends. If you’re discouraged, you may not have to change anything major in your life. You may just need rest! 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 so 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 rubble (the frustrations that keep you from working toward your goal) starts piling up?
If you don’t clean it out periodically, it will stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so that you don’t lose focus on your goals.
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 thought, “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.
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, you give in to fear. Giving in to fear leads to discouragement. Nehemiah 4 suggests that the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. To control the negative thoughts in your life, avoid negative people as much as you can.
Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear and you say, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear of criticism. Or you think you don’t deserve to succeed. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement by saying, “God, help me get my eyes off the problem and the circumstances and keep my eyes on you.”
You don’t have to stay stuck in your discouragement. Ask God to help you figure out the reason for it, address it, and start moving forward in confidence.
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