holding on

There are times in which it seems like the bottom has dropped out of life, and there is little or nothing left to stand on. It may be with reference to this or that concern, perhaps for another person, especially someone closee to us, or it may involve the possible loss of health or a job. Whatever the crisis is that we are facing, what can be the worst part of it is the heaviness and fear, indeed the darkness which can accompany it. And how one can feel like they’re being suffocated in all of this.

This is when perhaps the best way to put it, we need to be holding on. Holding on in faith through prayer and refusing to act (or react) in fear. This is so much easier said than done. It is perhaps the easiest thing in the world to try to take matters in our own hands, to bail ourselves out, to do what we can to save another, to save ourselves, to save the day. And it’s not like there’s never a time to act. Indeed, there may well be (or perhaps not).

What we do need to do for sure is pray. To remain in prayer, before God with words and in silence. If we keep reading the psalms along with the rest of the Bible, that can help us to know how to pray. We want to pray according to God’s revealed will. But we also pour out our hearts to him in our trouble, whether for someone else or for ourselves. The Spirit groans in us in this praying, and actually intercedes for us according to God’s will.

When you look at the book of Daniel toward the latter part, and see the struggle Daniel was in, over a large, global matter to be sure, but a spiritual struggle which involved both angels and demons, you can see that holding on often has to do with spiritual warfare. In fact in  some degree I think it invariably does. Our struggle, we are told in Ephesians, is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual entitites. And so there’s the aspect of spiritual warfare in this. We have to be strong in the mighty power of the Lord, put on the full armor of God, and stand in resistance against the forces arrayed against us. In much prayer. (Ephesians 6:10-20) Often we need others to pray for us as well.

We need ears to hear God’s answer to us. What we need in the end is God’s peace, the peace which transcends all understanding. A settled peace coming over us and remaining, in spite of the troubles.

But again, key for us here in and through Jesus is to hold on in faith and not act in fear. To insist on putting the matter in God’s hands and leaving it there. Only to act within a settled peace and only if need be. Faith means trusting God, trusting in his wisdom and that God is at work in ways we can’t comprehend. If we act we can get in the way of that work.

And remember, God cares. God suffers with us in our sufferiing. “In all of their affliction, God was afflicted.” We need to have an ear to hear from God, so what we can settle into that peace. Holding on doesn’t end there. It’s a way of life done in big and small ways right along. A habit we learn so that when the difficulties come, we don’t have to be alarmed, but learn to wrestle them through with God, so that we might rest in his care and good will.

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