Over the last couple of years one of our staff members has shared a recurring encouragement to me. Mike Matheney has said to me to “Hang in there.”
In normal (pre-covid) circumstances and ministry, hanging in there is another way of encouraging perseverance. Over the last 18 months or so that phrase has taken on heightened significance.
Sometimes, it feels like we are barely hanging on.
In his book, Seven Leaders: Preachers and Pastors, Iain Murray reflected upon pastor and mentor Kenneth MacRea. MacRea pastored in a remote village off the coast of Scotland. When he was eighty MacRea penned these pertinent and insightful words:
There is only one thing I know I can do well. I cannot lead, but I can truthfully say that I am able to hang on. It may arise from natural stubbornness, but I know that popular religious movements which, despite their lack of scriptural support, carry away so many good people, leave me entirely unaffected. I believe that I can set my teeth and hold on, but that is all I am good for.Kenneth MacRea, quoted by Iain Murray in Seven Leaders.
Did you catch that phrase, “able to hang on”? The context in the chapter reflects on pastoral ministry and theological fidelity, but the phrase is applicable in our situations today.
I’m writing this reflection on the day our county schools begin again. There is a lot going on in our lives. There are a lot of tensions and difficulties surrounding us in our community, in our personal lives, and across the world.
Are you able to hang on?
- For some of us, hanging on has meant remote school, sending your kids back to school, and worrying about the spread of Covid in school.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant dealing with sickness and recovering much more slowly than we would like.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant grieving without the normal experiences of visitation, a funeral, and friends/family to hug and visit during the death of a loved one.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant a loss of job or loss of freedom.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant learning to do your job differently and changing habits and practices just to get by.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant internal and psychological pressures that no one else will ever know.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant remaining faithful to a spouse who doesn’t act with love toward you and trying to sustain a marriage that you’re not sure will make it.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant learning new coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses of a pandemic and all the ways it has affected our lives.
- For some of us, hanging on has meant __________________ (you can fill in the blank here).
You get it, don’t you? Maybe last month, maybe last year, maybe as you’re reading this right now, you’re just hanging on.
Some of us have both our hands wrapped around our situations hanging on rather easily. Others of us are hanging on with only one hand. And for probably more than a few of us, we feel like our fingers are slipping and we’re losing our grip.
What happens if you let go?
What happens if your grip slips?
What happens if you can’t hold on any longer?
If you are follower of Jesus, remember this.
If you let go, if your grip slips, if you stop hanging on, then you will be ok. Jesus is holding on to you and holding on for you.Tweet
Jesus gave us this assurance:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”John 10:27-30
Jesus promised that he is hanging on to us. Jesus promised that the Father is hanging on to us. And no one (circumstance, burden, difficulty, sickness, person, Satan, etc.) can pull us from the hand of our Savior.
No matter what’s going on today, this week, or in the internal processes of your life, remember that you are in the hands of Jesus.
Hang on. Hold on. Don’t let go. Trust in the Lord. Take time to read Psalm 31. Pray for the Lord’s deliverance and rescue. Take time to read John 10. Rest in the hand of Jesus.
Hang in there. But if you let go, remember that Jesus won’t.