Yet there is much rubble; and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall.
The Israelites encountered three sources of discouragement. First, they were weary. Second, they were wondering. Look at what they said in verse 10: “Yet there is much rubble; and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall.” They were wondering if they would ever get this project finished. The timing of this statement is key–half of the project had been completed, and they were still knee-deep in rubble. They looked around and they could not see their way out of the rubble.
Third, they were discouraged because they were worried–they were overwhelmed by fear. Nothing will paralyze you as you pursue your dream any more than fear or worry. Somebody has said that worry is a thin stream that trickles through your mind that if left unchecked will cut a deep channel into which all other thoughts and emotions are drained. That is what worry does to us–it drains us, it strangles our emotions. Nehemiah and the Israelites had a lot to be worried about. They had enemies coming at them from the north, south, east, and west. Look at verse 11: “Our enemies said, ‘They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them, and put a stop to the work.’” In other words, the enemies said, “We are going to infiltrate your ranks, and when you least expect it, we are going to destroy you.” They were the original terrorists.
But there was another group that was causing worry. Verse 12 says, “The Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, ‘They will come up against us from every place where you may turn.’” There was a group of Jews who lived outside the wall–where the enemies lived–so they heard all of these plots being formulated. They ran to the people who were working on the wall and said, “The enemies are coming! They are going to defeat you!” Maybe these Jews were trying to deliver helpful information. But Nehemiah said, “They came and told us ten times.” That is a Hebrew expression that means “They came to us endlessly.” Do you have people like that in your life–people who delight in sharing bad news with you? They have fooled themselves into thinking they are helping you, but all they are doing is hindering God’s work in your life. In his commentary on Nehemiah, J. I. Packer wrote about people like that in the church. He said, “Few if any churches lack friends, of a sort, who feel it is their special ministry to impart negative assurances of this kind, and who never doubt that their doomsaying is the most helpful contribution they can make. The factual information they bring may, of course, be useful; but the oracular gloom they spread is unbelief masquerading as wisdom and needs to be nipped in the bud.” That is what Nehemiah was dealing with here. The problem with these doomsayers was they had lost perspective. Because they were living with the enemy, they were focused on what the enemy was doing, instead of focusing on what God was doing. They were stirring up worry.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Battling The Blahs” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
J. I. Packer, “A Passion For Faithfulness: Wisdom From The Book Of Nehemiah” (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1995), 105.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org