What spiritual leader hasn’t drawn encouragement from Nehemiah 2:18?
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.—Nehemiah 2:18
But for that encouragement to be more than an emotional boost, we need specific ways to put it into practice.
Just how does a person strengthen their hands?
There are many possibilities, but here are seven starters:
1. Ask for God’s help and strength.
When we labor in our own strength, we deplete ourselves. When we labor in God’s power, we receive His sustaining energy and His blessing on what we do.
Another way to say it: When we work, we work; when we pray, God works.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;—Ephesians 3:14, 16
2. Draw strength from God’s Word.
The Word of God gives perspective and promises like no other source. It gives direction and wisdom. Time with the Lord in His Word settles our spirits and realigns our focus. There is no substitute for it.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.—Proverbs 30:5
3. Release what weakens your hand.
This is huge. We ask God to strengthen our hands while at the same time clinging to what weakens our hands. It’s like going to a personal fitness trainer while eating a diet of Twinkies.
What weakens your hands for the work God has called you to do? Is it excessive entertainment, particular television shows, computer games, a carnal relationship, social media, discouraging thought patterns? Ask God to show you what weakens your hands, and release it.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,—Hebrews 12:1
4. Organize your workplace.
We weaken our ability to respond to needs and work efficiently when we’re not able to find what we need or are not prepared for the next task at hand. Life tends to disorder, thus organization must be a continual effort.
Let all things be done decently and in order.—1 Corinthians 14:40
5. Fellowship with godly friends.
Spend time with friends who encourage your walk with the Lord and strengthen your faith. We live in a day when sarcasm, criticism, and disparagement are celebrated. But these kinds of interactions and relationships weaken our hands. You need friends who will strengthen you in the Lord and in your labor for Him.
And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.—1 Samuel 23:16
6. Seek counsel.
Indecision weakens our hands and our work. Sometimes an outside perspective from a godly Christian is all we need.
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.—Proverbs 15:22
7. Regain perspective.
When the work is overwhelming—as any real work for God will be—we need God’s perspective. Sometimes, this means stepping back to gain a clear vision. Sometimes, it means buckling in and focusing on one project at a time.
There are days when before I even get out of bed, the enormity of the needs in front of me hits with such force that I have to simply pray, “Lord, what can I do today?”
Remember the work is the Lord’s, and the results belong to Him. And remember to rejoice in what He is doing.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.—Psalm 118:23
When Nehemiah surveyed the walls of Jerusalem, he saw them lying in waste. When you see a complete mess—be it in lives, in a city, in a work team, in any way—it weakens your hand. This is why you must purposefully strengthen your hand for the work of God.