This Monday on the brink of autumn, I observed the beginnings of the shedding of summer. Falling acorns. Cooler mornings. The first leaves finding their way to the ground.
I’ve had several friends lamenting the end of this [very strange] summer. Truth be told, summer is my least favorite season – the heat, bugs, sunburns, lack of structure. So I welcome the signs of a new season, the hope ushered in by letting go.
In 2020, we’ve had a master’s class in letting go – travel plans, school plans, sports, eating at restaurants, meeting at church together, morning commutes and our grasp on what “normal” used to look like. Our non-pandemic-stressors haven’t taken a break, either – a difficult diagnosis; anxiety over social, civil, and health issues; loneliness. We can feel like we’re flailing and life is out of control.“We are secure, not because we hold tightly to Jesus, but because He holds tightly to us.” -R.C. Sproul Click To Tweet
While there is much we need to hold loosely – our plans, our prescribed outcomes, our pride – there are ways Scripture instructs us to hold on. Further, we can take comfort in knowing God is holding on to us, his loving grasp firm on the world He created.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
What to Hold Onto
The Bible doesn’t instruct us to “let go and let God” – we are not inactive, robotic cogs in His master plan. We are to actively prepare and engage in battle for His kingdom (1 Timothy 6:12, Ephesians 6:11). Even when life feels out of control, we don’t have to let go out of fear, despair or frustration – we can hold tight to the Savior as the storms swirl around us.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
We can hold tightly to hope because God is a faithful promise-keeper.
Wisdom & Instruction
[My father] taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Proverbs 4:4-5
Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Proverbs 4:13
“Hold” is a different root word in each of these verses. In verse 4, hold (tamak) means to grasp or attain. In verse 13, hold (chazaq) means to grow firm or strengthen. As we cling to God’s words of instruction and wisdom, we find they are life-giving. Feel-good worldly wisdom won’t strengthen us, it will only frustrate and drain us.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
We don’t have to be swayed by what sounds good. We can know what’s truly good, as this verse says, by testing everything. God will never contradict Himself or His Word. We can hold tight to what is approved by God – which never includes sin. Let’s exercise discernment under the constant barrage of voices calling for our loyalties.
But you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.
Joshua 23:8 NKJV
In Joshua’s farewell to the Israelite leaders, he’s leaving his last words of instructions. He reminds them of what God has done and how God has fought for them. He warns them not to turn to idols – and that courage comes from clinging to God himself.
God Holds Us
In the Bible, God’s hands are described as mighty, righteous, strong, delivering, upholding, healing, creative, good, powerful (just to name a few). As a child of God, we can be comforted that God’s hold on us is never at risk, even as we falter. These truths found in Scripture are beautifully presented in this song He Will Hold Me Fast (which inspired the subheadings below).
When We Fear Our Faith Will Fail
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8
We will never be completely at home in this world in its fallen state, so fearful circumstances will continue to challenge our faith. Our faith itself is upheld by God – and that faith is what gives us victory and endurance to overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5).
When the Tempter Would Prevail
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Psalm 73:21-24
On our worst days, we can accuse God and feel distant from Him. When seeing the wicked prosper and the righteous struggling, the Psalmist Asaph said trying to figure out the injustice before him was a “wearisome task” – until he saw things from God’s perspective.
Like a patient parent, God won’t let go of our hand as we struggle and work through our faith with our limited understanding. God continues to guide us to see from His eternal perspective, then invites us to witness and share in His glory.
Through Life’s Fearful Path
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10 NIV
There is nowhere we can go from God’s presence. For those who are in Christ, even in the darkest, scariest places we go, God holds us. Nothing can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28-29).
Faith Until it’s Turned to Sight
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12 (NASB)
In this chapter, Paul emphasizes that no human effort can earn favor with God, but righteousness is God’s work through Christ alone. Christ laid hold of us – and in that, we can know the power of his resurrection, endure suffering and become more like Christ as we wait for our final home with Him (Phil. 3:10).
- What is one thing you need to let go of for the remainder of 2020?
- From the verses above, what is one thing you need to hold onto?
- In the ways God holds you, which one are you most grateful for in this season?
Lord, help me to let go of what is not mine to hold onto. Let me hold to your instruction, to what you call good, and to Your presence, guidance and strength that comes from knowing Jesus. Father, thank you for holding secure my salvation and for the strength from Your mighty hand.
Want to read more from Asaph the Psalmist? His nighttime meditations led him to ponder God’s mighty deeds and redemption of his people. Go here to download this free 7-night devotional, Rest in Jesus.