In August 2016, I was beginning a third year of full-time graduate school, working a full-time job, and serving in our church’s student ministry. It was a busy season, and I was stressed. Around that time, my wife began experiencing a sort of persistent anxiety she never had before, and it even resulted in a few rough panic attacks. With the help of a doctor and a counselor, she was able to fight the anxiety, and I was able to support her through it.
While supporting Susie, I was a strong, encouraging husband, but it’s like my body was just storing up my own stress to be released later. A few weeks after Susie’s panic attacks subsided, I got sick. I felt anxious like I never had before, and I became unduly overwhelmed. It felt like I was drowning in work, school, and life in general. In the face of what seemed insurmountable work and life circumstances, I was not relying on the Lord to be my strength. I was relying on myself.
In Nehemiah 6, the wall was finally rebuilt despite attempts to sabotage the work of Nehemiah and the others. The conspirators—Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem—sent a message to Nehemiah in an attempt to lure him away from his work at the wall and to do him harm. They did not want him to succeed in the work the Lord had set out for him to do.
But Nehemiah saw through the veiled attempts to undermine him. He said of the man who delivered the threatening message, “He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me” (v.13). Nehemiah was given a task by God. He was not going to let the intimidation of man prevent him from obeying God. And so in the midst of many attempts to distract and discredit him, Nehemiah says, “But now, my God, strengthen my hands” (v.9).
The Lord has called you to a work. Whether it is parenting your children, teaching a squirrely third grade class, manufacturing auto parts, or leading a church—He has called you to a work that He intends for you to use for His glory, not your own (Ephesians 2:10). Others, including Satan, may try to assail you. In the face of these attacks, you can choose to trust in your own strength for deliverance. Or you can rely on the Lord to strengthen your hands.
Written by Chris Martin