If you were asked to name the world’s deadliest disease, what would be your answer? Cancer? Polio? MS? AIDS? You probably wouldn’t say discouragement. You might not even think of discouragement as a deadly disease, but it is. And it is more common than any of those others.

Why is discouragement such a dreaded disease? First, because it’s universal. All of us get discouraged. I do, you do, we all do. Discouragement is common. Yes, even Christians get discouraged. Second, because it’s recurring. You can get discouragement a number of times. It’s not just a one-time thing. Third, because it’s highly contagious. Other people can get discouraged because you’re discouraged.


The good news is that discouragement is curable. A story from the life of Nehemiah illustrates four causes and three cures for discouragement. You may recall that the man Nehemiah was a leader of the Jewish group that had returned to Israel from Babylon to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. When they first started on the wall, they had a lot of fervor and zeal and were very excited about the project. But after working for a while, they became discouraged.

Chapter 4 of the book of Nehemiah has the people starting out on a high note. “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart” (v. 6). But as the story continues, the mood changes: “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.’ Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ Then the Jews who live near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us’ ” (vv. 10–12).

We have probably had this mood more often than we want to remember. You may be discouraged right now. This story shows why people become discouraged and how they can overcome that discouragement. It tells us what to do when we feel like giving up.

Rick Warren, God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

We have just released a new Bible Study based on Rick Warren’s book, God’s Answer to Life’s Difficult Questions.

These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.

Lessons include:

How to Cope with Stress

How Can I Rebound from Failure?

How Can I Defeat Depression?

How Can I Live Above Average?

How Can I Have Peace of Mind?

How Can I Handle Discouragement?

How Can I Overcome My Problems?

How Can I Be Confident In a Crisis?

How Can I Ever Change?

How Did I Get Myself in To This Mess?

How Can I Overcome Loneliness?

Why Is This Happening to Me?