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Don't be discouraged in the journey of life

 Don't be discouraged in this journey of life (Photo: iStock)

How do you keep on keeping on when everything seems to be working against you? How do you finish or accomplish what you start well? Life is not all sunshine and flowers; it has its share of gloom and downside. Life is like a marathon race. At the starting point, there are many people but as the race advances, the crowd thins out and few reach the finish line.

Some of the marks of spiritual and emotional maturity include keeping your commitments and promises and fulfilling your obligations and duties. Many start well in life but along the way, they falter and get discouraged when the going gets tough. Their life is full of half-finished projects, plans and ideas.

Discouragement is the main reason people do not finish what they start. It is universal, a deadly disease, contagious and recurs over and over. It causes people to waste time and resources and they eventually give up in life.

The Bible records the story of Nehemiah who was put in charge of rebuilding the wall around the city of Jerusalem. He had to figure out how to keep people from being discouraged because of the enormity of the task. When they started, everybody was enthusiastic and they made good progress. However, halfway they got discouraged because when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, Ammonites and Ashdodites heard the walls of Jerusalem were being restored they were angry. They all conspired to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion among the builders so that the work would cease. Typically, it is halfway through marriage, career, relationship, school term or life that people get discouraged and quit.

Nehemiah and the people asked God to fight for them and strengthen them to continue building. "So it was that half of his servants worked at the construction, the other half held spears, shields and bows and wore armour; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. And the one who sounded the trumpet to alert them in case the enemies struck was next to Nehemiah" (Nehemiah 4:16-18).

What causes discouragement? First is fatigue. You run out of energy. The entire nation was trying to rebuild the gigantic wall but half way they ran out of steam. "The strength of the labourers is falling and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall" (Nehemiah 4:10).

American football coach, Vince Lombardi says, "Fatigue makes cowards of all of us." You are more likely to be fearful when tired but once you rest, you get rejuvenated to continue with the task. Even a farmer knows that they will get a better harvest when they leave the land farrow for a period to 'rest'.

God warns us about this, "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt. How he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks and all the stragglers at your rear because you were tired and weary, and he did not fear God" (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). The same is true of us; when you are tired, you become vulnerable - physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The second is frustration. Do not entertain negative thoughts such as, 'I cannot seem to get ahead' or 'I cannot keep up with what is going on around me' or 'I am lagging behind in everything'. "Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, the strength of the labourers is giving out and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall" (Nehemiah 4:10). There was so much rubble in Jerusalem that people felt they could not manage to clear it.

Third is a past failure. Nehemiah had a plan on how to go about rebuilding the wall but things did not go according to that plan. It was taking longer than anticipated and the processes were quite tedious. They lagged behind and failed to meet their targets. This made them claim they will never finish it. Some people react to failure by blaming and getting angry at other people while others blame themselves. Either way, the result is discouragement.

Fourth is mockery and threats from your enemies. Their enemies mocked them saying, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish - stones that are burned? Whatever they build, if even a fox goes over it will break it" (Nehemiah 4:11). They threatened to attack them and cause the work to stop. This greatly discouraged the builders.

I pray that discouragement will find no room in your life, that you will accomplish all that you embark on and finish well!

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