As Christians, we are going to be faced with doubt, fear and discouragement. We live in a culture of greed. There will be those who threaten us, intimidate us and try to distract us from following hard after Christ. How do we deal with these things that try to tear us down and paralyze us? Here are five things we need to do.
- Understand your position in Christ.
In times of doubt, fear and discouragement the enemy will try to distance us from God. If you are a Christian, understand that you are a treasured child of the living God. That is something you need to remind yourself of constantly. Every thought that contradicts the truth of God’s love needs to be corralled and aligned with the truth in God’s Word. Heed the words of the Apostle Paul, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Doubt will come but, by God’s grace, you will not turn into a doubter. Things will come into your life that will cause fear but, through Christ, fear will not be paralyzing. As a human living on this earth, there will be times of discouragement but, by God’s grace, you will not lose your eternal perspective and will evaluate your heart to make sure discouragement has not been aided and abetted by spiritual compromise.
- Understand the power of prayer.
Nehemiah was a man of prayer. Before he went to King Artaxerxes to ask permission to return to Jerusalem, he petitioned God (Nehemiah 1:5-11). Nehemiah continued to pray as he faced opposition from Sanballat and his men (Nehemiah 4:4-5, 9).
There are many things in our life that we cannot fix. But we can turn them over to God. Paul gave this reminder to the Philippians:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
- Trust God.
There are two questions that every believer must ask. The first one is, “Can you trust God?” emphasis on trust. The second question is, “Can you trust God?” emphasis on you. The first question is philosophical. The second is rubber on the road practical.
Fear will come. It did for David, the man after God’s own heart. But when anxiety came David made a decision. He said,
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
The prophet Isaiah made the same decision. He wrote,
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. -Isaiah 12:2
Fear will come. We must decide to trust.
- Be Prepared!
While we understand our position in Christ, prayer and trust; Nehemiah reminds us that we need to be prepared. Notice the details of Nehemiah’s preparation.
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.” Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed
places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember
the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had
frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God
will fight for us!” So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside
Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.
Here are some lessons we can learn from Nehemiah’s preparation.
- They acknowledged the threat.
Acknowledge what causes your fear, doubt and/or discouragement. When we acknowledge the issue, we can begin to deal with it. Peter wrote,
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith….
-1 Peter 5:8-9
Nehemiah’s men were ready for the battle. Whether day or night, they did not take off their clothes. Even when they went for water, each man carried his weapon with him. We must stand guard.
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
There is nothing that weakens an army like division. Nehemiah and his men stayed together. And so must we!
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
- Read the Word of God daily.
God’s Word is the inerrant instruction manual for our life. It tells us the paths to take and the paths to avoid. It transcends culture. God’s Word is just as relevant today as it was when the ink was still wet on the parchment. But Scripture is more than just a manual; it is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12). Through his Word, God teaches us, encourages us, inspires us and shows us how much he loves us. The Apostle Paul says it this way,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
-2 Timothy 3:16-17
If we are going to be thoroughly equipped for the voices of opposition, we must read and meditate on God’s Word daily.
Do you hear voices? Voices of fear, doubt and discouragement? Voices of greed, distraction, threats and intimidation? It’s easy to allow these voices to turn up the volume and drown out the focus, peace and confidence that God desires. But from Nehemiah we learn that God always gives us the strength to do what he calls us to do. Whether riding high in success or experiencing failure, the Heavenly Father will always be present with you. His help was not unique to Nehemiah. He is ready and able to carry you today.