“Do not let your hands drop down.”—ZEPHANIAH 3:16.
A SISTER who is a regular pioneer and is married to an elder says: “Despite maintaining a good spiritual routine, I have struggled with anxiety for many years. It robs me of sleep, impacts my health, affects the way I treat others, and sometimes makes me want to give up.”
2 Can you understand that sister’s feelings? Sadly, because we live in Satan’s wicked world, we experience a tremendous amount of pressure. And like an anchor that prevents a boat from moving, anxiety can make us feel weighed down or discouraged. (Proverbs 12:25) Why may you feel anxious? Maybe you are sad over the death of a loved one or are enduring a serious illness or persecution. Or you may be struggling to care for your family in a very difficult economy. As time passes, emotional stress can cause your strength to weaken and even cause you to lose your joy. However, you can be confident that God is ready to help you.—Read Isaiah 41:10, 13.
3, 4. (a) How does the Bible use the word “hand”? (b) What might cause our hands to drop down?
3 The Bible often uses parts of the body to describe the different qualities or actions of a person. The hand, for example, is mentioned hundreds of times. When the Bible says that someone’s hands are strengthened, it can mean that the person has been encouraged, is stronger, and is ready for action. (1 Samuel 23:16, footnote; Ezra 1:6, footnote) It can also mean that he is positive and that he has a hope for the future.
4 Other times, the Bible may describe a person who drops his hands down. That refers to a person who is discouraged or who loses hope. (2 Chronicles 15:7, footnote; Hebrews 12:12) When you are under stress or are exhausted or feel that your relationship with Jehovah is becoming weaker, you may want to give up. Where can you find encouragement? How can you be motivated and strengthened to endure and have joy?
“THE HAND OF JEHOVAH IS NOT TOO SHORT TO SAVE”
5. (a) How might we feel when we have problems, but what should we remember? (b) What will we discuss?
5 Read Zephaniah 3:16, 17. We should not become afraid and discouraged, or let our hands drop down, when we have problems. Our loving Father, Jehovah, invites us to throw all our anxiety on him. (1 Peter 5:7) Jehovah cares for us as he cared for the nation of Israel. He told them that his hand “is not too short to save.” He is always ready to save his loyal servants. (Isaiah 59:1) In this article, we will discuss three outstanding Bible examples that show Jehovah’s desire and ability to strengthen his people to do his will despite severe difficulties. Let us see how these examples can strengthen you.
6, 7. What can we learn from Israel’s victory over the Amalekites?
6 Soon after the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, the Amalekites attacked them. Moses told Joshua, a courageous man, to lead the Israelites into battle. Then Moses took Aaron and Hur to a hill nearby. From there, they could see the battlefield. Were those three men running from the battle because they were afraid? Absolutely not!
7 Moses followed a plan that helped the Israelites win the battle against the Amalekites. He held the rod of the true God in his hands and lifted them up toward heaven. When Moses did that, Jehovah gave the Israelites the power to fight the Amalekites. However, when Moses’ hands became heavy and began to drop down, the Amalekites started to win. Aaron and Hur acted quickly to help Moses. “They took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur, one on each side, supported his hands, so that his hands remained steady until the sun set.” Yes, because of God’s mighty hand, the Israelites won the battle.—Exodus 17:8-13.
8. (a) What did Asa do when the Ethiopians threatened Judah? (b) How can we imitate Asa?
8 Jehovah was also ready to use his mighty hand to help his people in King Asa’s day. Many armies are mentioned in the Bible, but the largest one belonged to Zerah the Ethiopian, who had 1,000,000 experienced soldiers. The Ethiopian army was almost twice as large as Asa’s army. Did Asa become anxious, afraid, or discouraged? Did he let his hands drop down? No! Asa immediately asked Jehovah for help. From a military standpoint, it may have seemed impossible to win the battle against the Ethiopians. “But with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) God used his great power and “defeated the Ethiopians before Asa,” whose “heart was complete with Jehovah all his life.”—2 Chronicles 14:8-13; 1 Kings 15:14.
9. (a) What did not stop Nehemiah from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem? (b) How did God respond to Nehemiah’s prayer?
9 When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, what did he find? He saw that enemies from foreign lands were threatening the Jews, so that they had stopped building Jerusalem’s walls. The city was not protected, and the Jews were discouraged. How did Nehemiah feel? Did he also become discouraged and let his hands drop down? No! Like Moses, Asa, and other faithful servants of Jehovah, Nehemiah always relied on Jehovah. In this situation too, Nehemiah prayed to Jehovah for help, and Jehovah answered him. God used his “great power” and “mighty hand” to strengthen the Jews. (Read Nehemiah 1:10; 2:17-20; 6:9.) Do you believe that Jehovah uses his “great power” and “mighty hand” to strengthen his servants today?
JEHOVAH WILL STRENGTHEN YOUR HANDS
10, 11. (a) How does Satan try to cause us to let our hands drop down? (b) What does Jehovah use to strengthen us and give us power? (c) How have you benefited from Jehovah’s instruction?
10 We can be sure that the Devil will never let his hands drop down. He will continue to attack us, trying to stop our Christian activities. He uses lies and threats from governments, religious leaders, and apostates. What is his goal? He wants us to stop preaching the good news of the Kingdom. But Jehovah is able and willing to help us, and he gives us his holy spirit to strengthen us. (1 Chronicles 29:12) It is very important that we ask for God’s spirit so that we can fight Satan and his wicked world. (Psalm 18:39; 1 Corinthians 10:13) We are also grateful for the help we get from God’s Word. Think, too, about how much we learn from our publications each month. The words of Zechariah 8:9, 13 (read) were spoken while the temple in Jerusalem was being rebuilt, yet those words can help us today.
It is very important that we ask for God’s spirit so that we can fight Satan and his wicked world
11 Jehovah also strengthens us through the instruction we receive at our Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions, as well as in our theocratic schools. That instruction can help us to serve God with the right motives, to set goals, and to care for our many Christian responsibilities. (Psalm 119:32) Are you eager to gain strength from Jehovah’s instruction?
12. What must we do to stay strong?
12 Jehovah helped his people to defeat the Amalekites and the Ethiopians, and he gave Nehemiah and the Jews the power to complete Jerusalem’s walls. In a similar way, God will give us the strength to continue in our preaching work despite our own anxieties and despite opposition and lack of interest shown by others. (1 Peter 5:10) Jehovah will not miraculously make our problems disappear. Instead, we must do our part. How? We need to read God’s Word every day, prepare for and go to our meetings each week, continue in our personal study and family worship, and rely on Jehovah in prayer. Let us never allow anything to distract us from the things that Jehovah has provided to strengthen and encourage us. If you feel that your hands have dropped down in any of these areas, ask for God’s help. Then see how God’s spirit “energizes you, giving you both the desire and the power to act.” (Philippians 2:13) Can you, though, strengthen the hands of others?
STRENGTHEN HANDS THAT MAY HANG DOWN
13, 14. (a) How was one brother strengthened after his wife died? (b) How can we strengthen others?
13 Jehovah gives us a worldwide brotherhood of caring brothers and sisters who can encourage us. The apostle Paul said: “Strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees, and keep making straight paths for your feet.” (Hebrews 12:12, 13) Many of the early Christians got that kind of help from their brothers and sisters. It is similar today. Consider an example. After one brother lost his wife in death and endured other painful situations, he said: “I learned that we cannot choose our tests, neither their time nor their frequency. Prayer and personal study have been like a life jacket that has kept my head above water. And the support of my spiritual brothers and sisters has brought me much comfort. I have come to realize the importance of developing a good personal relationship with Jehovah before difficult situations arise.”
14 Aaron and Hur helped to strengthen Moses’ hands by supporting them during the battle against the Amalekites. Today, we too can look for ways to support and help others. Some of our brothers suffer because of old age, health problems, persecution from their family, loneliness, or the loss of a loved one. We can also strengthen young ones, who are often under pressure to do wrong or to find success in this world. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3; 5:11, 14) Look for ways to show real interest in others at the Kingdom Hall, in the ministry, during a meal together, or when you talk on the telephone.
15. What effect can positive words have on our brothers and sisters?
15 After Asa’s impressive victory against the large Ethiopian army, the prophet Azariah encouraged him and his people by saying: “But you, be strong and do not let your hands drop, for your activity will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7, footnote) This motivated Asa to make many changes to restore pure worship. In a similar way, your positive words can encourage others and help them to continue serving Jehovah. (Proverbs 15:23) And you should never forget how your brothers are strengthened when you give encouraging comments during the meetings.
Nehemiah did not just watch as others did the work. He personally helped to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls
16. How can elders imitate Nehemiah? Give examples of how brothers and sisters have helped you personally.
16 With Jehovah’s help, Nehemiah and the Jews strengthened their hands. They completed Jerusalem’s walls in just 52 days! (Nehemiah 2:18, footnote; 6:15, 16) Nehemiah did not just watch as others did the work. He personally helped to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. (Nehemiah 5:16) Similarly, many elders imitate Nehemiah when they help with construction projects or clean and maintain the Kingdom Hall. These loving men also strengthen brothers and sisters who are “anxious at heart” by visiting them and by working with them in the ministry.—Read Isaiah 35:3, 4.
“DO NOT LET YOUR HANDS DROP DOWN”
17, 18. When we have problems or are anxious, we can be sure of what?
17 When we work together with our brothers and sisters, it strengthens our unity. It also helps us to build lasting friendships and strengthens our confidence in the blessings that will soon come from God’s Kingdom. When we strengthen the hands of others, we help them to endure difficult situations and to keep a positive hope for the future. In addition, when we help others, it strengthens our hands and helps us to focus on the future.
18 When we think about how Jehovah helped and protected his faithful servants in the past, our faith and trust in him are strengthened. So when you have problems and feel anxious, “do not let your hands drop down”! You can be sure that if you pray to Jehovah for help, his powerful hand will strengthen you and lead you to Kingdom blessings in the near future.—Psalm 73:23, 24.