They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”Nehemiah 6:9
At the beginning of Genesis, we learn that the Lord made us in His image. Now that means something specific, but I see one exciting characteristic we have that makes us like our Creator and Father: we are creative. It’s true. People are uniquely creative. We like to build, paint, write, we start businesses, plant flowers, and have children. People want to create.
We each have unique gifts as well. Unlike the popular saying, you can’t be literally anything, not really. Sure, you could put in a lot of effort to be something, but if your heart is not in it and your gifts don’t line up with your actions, you will struggle and become discouraged. But that’s ok! I wasn’t called to be a CEO, or an athlete, or a builder. Maybe you are, but I was called to other things where my gifts lie, and these gifts most often help me create. So each of us have unique gifts to fulfill our callings.
I didn’t always know where my gifts were. In fact, if you would have asked me at specific points in my life if I wanted to be a writer, I would have laughed at you. What a joke! Me, a writer? I hated writing! But that wasn’t true. Those were the tales I told myself. The truth was, I loved writing. I just didn’t like to be told what to write! I loved writing stories and papers on important subjects. I wanted the freedom to create and the encouragement to do so. I also have gifts in organization, painting, and caring for my family.
Too often, though, we face problems like Nehemiah did in the above verse. Perhaps we don’t have the possibility of a nearby army coming to tear down all that we built, but we have voices of discouragement that desire to tear us down. They say, “You can’t do that! It’s already been done, and someone has done it better.” Or maybe it’s, “What if you struggle, what will everyone think then?” Or even better, “What if you fail?” Sometimes these words come from actual people, but most often (at least for me), they come from myself. Fear is an intense obstacle, but we have a Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. We were given gifts, talents, and abilities to do the things we love and the strength to do them well. We have the tools and potential to fulfill our callings and do great things in our lives, but too often, we don’t do them.
On our own, it is easy to become discouraged. You need to know where your strengths lie. You need a plan and goals. You need people around you to support you and give constructive criticism. You need a family to love and hold you up when you falter. You need to ask God to “strengthen your hands.” Maybe you’re not doing physical work, like Nehemiah. Still, you need God to strengthen your voice to sing, your mind to write, your feet to run, or whatever else you are endeavoring to do.
Those voices of discouragement, from within or otherwise, will and do come. But if we focus on the things we are called to, ignoring the voices of fear, asking the Lord to strengthen us in the gifts He has given us, we will accomplish our goals. It’s a harsh world, and following our calling is a daunting task, but with help, we will succeed. We just need to ask.
Blessings to you and yours,