“The strength of the laborers is giving out.” Ne 4:10 NIV
The story of Nehemiah highlights four major sources of discouragement. Let’s look at the first of them: Fatigue. The people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out.” In other words, they’d worked themselves to exhaustion. They were worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that discouragement is strictly a spiritual problem. We say, “Maybe I need to recommit my life to God,” when in fact the real problem is we’re burned out. We need rest and renewal. Indeed, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is relax, or go to bed, or take some time off. When do fatigue and discouragement surface? Look at verse six: “So we rebuilt the wall until all of it reached half of its height.” Do you know when you’re most apt to get discouraged? When you’re halfway into a project! Everybody works hard at first. The Bible says the people “worked with all their heart” (v. 6 NIV). Why? Because of the newness of the project. It was exciting and novel, but after a while the newness wore off and the work got boring. Life settled into a routine, then a rut, then a ritual. Be careful: When fatigue walks in, faith walks out! That’s why the Psalmist said, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Ps 23:2-3 NIV). Fatigue is one of the biggest causes of discouragement, and it often shows up about midpoint. It’s why we leave so many projects unfinished. Bottom line: If you need time off, take it!