My dear friend and prayer partner Phyllis died suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks ago. From her symptoms, it seems she might have had a brain aneurysm. From God’s perspective, it was time for her to come home and be with Him. I’m happy for my precious friend, but I am deeply sad at the same time . . . I miss her. Grief continues to hit me in waves in the wake of her passing. In the midst of it all, the Lord keeps telling me one thing: “Hold on.”
I recently taught at a women’s retreat entitled “Be Brave.” Joshua 1:9 was the main scripture for the weekend: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV) The phrase “be strong” actually means “to hold on”.
Hold onto the Lord
Every time we face something overwhelming in life, something we don’t understand, something expected, or something that hits us out of nowhere, we have a choice: whether we will hold onto the Lord or let go. We have to decide if we will trust the Lord or not. The Word for believe in the New Testament is pisteuo, and it means “to trust in, fully rely upon, and cling to” everything Jesus is and everything He says. These are the places where faith grows, where the connection with our Lord becomes stronger. As one pastor said at our church once, “Faith is not faith until it is tested.”
In the days since my friend’s death, the Holy Spirit has reminded me over and over who the Lord is and what He says in His Word. I am holding onto those truths and onto the Lord for dear life. The truth is, the Lord is my strength. He says so in Judges 6:14, “Go in the strength you have,” and then He reminds us of our true source of strength: “Am I not sending you?” (NIV). He adds in verse 16, “I will be with you” (NIV). His faithfulness is great (Lam. 3:23), and His love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).
The Lord is holding onto you
Whether we are holding onto the Lord or not, He promises that He has us in His loving and all-powerful grip, and He will never let go of us. In Joshua 1:5, He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (NIV). That promise is repeated in Hebrews 13:5 in the New Testament. The word leave means “to slacken one’s grip,” and the word forsake means “to let go” in Joshua 1:5. Essentially, the Lord is saying, “I’ve got you.”
He has us in every sense. We are told He cares for us (“protects and provides for us”) in 1 Peter 5:7. We are told His plans are meant to “prosper you and not to harm you . . . to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Here’s the truth: A grip is much stronger, a connection is much greater, when both parties are holding onto one another. God always has a hold of us, but we have to decide to hold onto Him too. He never forces Himself on anyone. He wants us to choose Him. How do we do that? We just say, “I trust you, Lord.” We trust Him, hold onto Him, because He is holding onto us, and because we know who He is . . . the one who loves us so much. How did He prove His love for us? He sent His only begotten Son Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sins so those who believe in Jesus could experience abundant life here and now and be with Him and His Son forever.
The Lord will help you hold onto Him
Some days, my grip on the Lord isn’t as strong as I would like. Some days, the grief is just too heavy. The Lord becomes especially near on those days. He uses one of His faithful servants to send an encouraging text message, to call and speak words of hope into my soul, to smile at me, or to give a heartfelt hug. He lets me encounter life-giving words from the Bible that nourish and strengthen my soul. He gives me a special awareness of His presence. I don’t have to do my grieving alone. He is with me every step of the way. He and I can walk this path together, hand in hand.
I read this a few days ago in my Bible: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV, italics mine). He is going to help me hold onto Him as He holds onto me. I don’t have to figure out how I am going to get through this huge loss. He is going to enable me to do it. The right hand is the hand of power and authority in the scriptures. In other words, He has the power and ability to see me through this heartache, and more than that, He has the power and ability to enable me to “overwhelmingly conquer” anything and everything that life throws at me (Romans 8:37, NASB). I am going to count on Him to do that.
So, in my grief, I am going to keep holding onto the Lord. I pray, precious friend, that you will do the same. You are safe and secure in His grip, and He loves you forever.
Question: How/where is the Lord calling you to hold onto Him? Comment at the link below, and I will be praying for you.