Strengthen our Hands
“When the going got tough, he didn’t pray for the persecution to stop, but to make him strong enough to carry the responsibility.”
Around 444 B.C., Nehemiah was an Israelite serving as a cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, the King of Prussia. One day Nehemiah received news that Jerusalem, the symbol of the Israelites, was in great trouble and disgraced. The wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and its gates were burned to the ground. Because of this, the city was being ransacked and looted, and the Israelites were being ridiculed and persecuted. This caused Nehemiah to weep, as this once great city, the sign and symbol of God’s favor to the Israelites, was now in shambles. Nehemiah decided a bold action: to petition the king to allow him to go and rebuild the wall. Just asking the king this question could have cost Nehemiah his life. But, he did it anyway and the King granted him passage, with supplies, to rebuild the city where Nehemiah’s ancestors was buried.
When Nehemiah arrived, he faced much persecution from those in power that were benefitting from looting and robbing the Israelites in Jerusalem. He was made fun of, threatened to be killed, and attacked physically and spiritually. At one point, he had to have workers paired with armed soldiers to keep rebuilding the wall. In Nehemiah 6, Sanballet and the rest of his goons had it with Nehemiah. They acted like his friend, trying to lure him off the wall and meet in a neutral place, where they planned to kill him. Nehemiah sniffed this out and responded to Sanballet, “I am doing a great work and will not come down. Why would I stop to go with you?” Four times Sanballet sent this same request and four times Nehemiah responded the same way. Then, Sanbellet changed his tactic and decided to slander Nehemiah’s character, trying to instill fear in him. Nehemiah didn’t move and kept on working. Finally, Sanbellet went after Nehemiah’s religion, making false claims against him. Through all of this, Nehemiah’s prayer was not for the persecution to stop, but rather for God to strengthen his hands. “Make my hands stronger so I can carry more of this responsibility.” God answered Nehemiah’s prayers and rebuilt the wall in record time. When his enemies heard about it, all of the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized this work had been done with the help of God.
What I love about the story of Nehemiah is the lack of one big miracle. Instead, it was an ordinary person with great faith, using ordinary strategies with great perseverance, to do unbelievable work through God’s power. When the going got tough, he didn’t pray for the persecution to stop, but to make him strong enough to carry the responsibility. Thank God there was a team of people around me after the meeting with Junette and her children. We had people of great faith that used ordinary strategies with great perseverance, and we were able to witness God perform His miracles.
“God wants to rebuild, renew, and restore our brokenness in this life and the next.”
Terry with Junette and her family inside the new house, 2018
Many Hands stands on the shoulders of Tim and Lucia Van Maanen, whose sacrificial “I’m with you” spirit forever set our organization on God’s path.
Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of Pastor Francois Romelus, who is our angel on earth, gently guiding us with wisdom, courage, and love.
Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of Karmen Brown, who shows us how to love others with the love of Jesus.