Halfway through the fight… with no clear end in sight!

Aug 27, 2021

As I watch our government try to manage the new Delta strain of the Corona Virus whilst facing a seemingly growing frustration with the lockdown, I see an increasing sense of discouragement taking hold of our community. Discouragement is dangerous! It can lead to bad decisions which can throw us into a downward spiral of hopelessness. Having to keep yourself mentally and emotionally resilient, without a clear end to your challenges in sight, is a critical skill in a season like this. 
 
I think discouragement during COVID is universal.  Everybody gets discouraged.  It is also reoccurring.  You can catch it more than once.  It is highly contagious.  When other people are discouraged, you can get discouraged.  But it is curable.
 
The fact of the matter is, life’s got its ups and downs.  Everybody has off days, down days, days you feel like giving up. I just want to very briefly share with you a couple of encouraging ideas out of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah has been a real encouragement to me. 
 
Nehemiah was a builder in this chapter 4.  In Nehemiah ’s life we see four different causes of discouragement.  The Israelites came back from Babylon and they were rebuilding the wall.  In v. 6 it says:

“We rebuilt the wall until all of it reached half its height and the people worked with all their heart.”

Halfway through the ‘fight’ …with no end in sight…! This is a very dangerous phase in any process or project. It is where the rush of the ‘start’ (i.e. the pandemic) is behind you…and the thrill of the end still escapes you (i.e. the pandemic). There are four reasons for this.
 In v. 10 it says:

 “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.  And also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us we’ll be right there among them and we will kill them and put an end to the work.”

  1. Fatigue – the strength of the laborers is giving out

  2. Frustration – there’s a lot of logistical, emotional, relational, and financial rubble lying around

  3. Factionalism – people are forced into camps which increases the political nature of life. Those for and those against polarize society. This led to consistent relational strain.

  4. Fear – The threatening environment over-emphasizes the dangers we are faced with. They say “fear is the dark room where you develop your negatives…” 

So, how can we go about addressing this challenge? You must attack discouragement on all four of these levels:


1. Fatigued 

Reinstate your “sabbatical habits” where you take one day a week and replenish your soul. Too many people’s lives have no clear finish lines and starting points with the necessary break in between. Having Sabbatical rhythms in this season is a must (especially taking sabbatical breaks for negative information sources)

“It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night – for God wants His loved one to get their proper rest!”
Psalm 127:2 (LB)



2. Frustrated 

Take time to reorganize your life. Clear the clutter. Begin with your family relationships and responsibilities! Then move on to your relationships in your faith family:

“I stationed… them … by families…” 
Heh. 4:13 NIV


3. Factionalism 

Choose the topics and their weight of importance carefully. The proverbial “choose your battles” is applicable here.

'Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.'
Romans 14:1 MSG


4. Fearful

Go to God in prayer and let peace replace panic.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Phil. 4:6 NIV
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you
1 Pet 5:7 NIV



May you be encouraged and be an encourager in this season!!!
 

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James 1:2-3,5 NIV

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“We are all so grateful for the food deliveries our daughter’s family. Please thank the lady who delivered these parcels. Our daughter was brought up as a Christian and loved God so much, but since growing into an adult, she doesn't believe anything now. This saddens my heart.... but the good thing that came out of delivering the food yesterday was, she thought the lady was so lovely and that your generosity was so well received, and she had such gratitude to you and Berwick Church of Christ. I believe God did more than deliver food parcels, He delivered His love and a ray of hope to her opening up her heart one day to His love once again”.

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BRAAM BOTHA
Senior Pastor