Today I was texting an encouraging message to my friend. My phone has a mind of its own, and loves to guess what word I am thinking of, and it helpfully suggests words based on keystrokes. And since it’s a machine it pulls out the first word that it thinks the keystrokes made.
I wanted to tell her that God would bring us through as pure gold through each trial. But my phone took the keystrokes and interpreted them as ‘brought as pure hold through each trial’.
As I didn’t stop to read it back, I sent it – typos and all. My loving friend mentally edited nonsense words and made sense out of it all. Later, when I re-read the message, I laughed about it, till it struck me that that was actually a pretty profound thought.
We come through each trial as pure hold: HELD by Hands.
So often when we think about our faith being tested, we think that we have to have the right attitudes in the trials, think the right things, say the right things, pray the right prayers. Its all up to us. And if we get it right, God will help us come through.
While all along, we come through because we are HELD by His hands. The fires test and prove GOD’s ability to hold us and carry us through; His ability to work in us so that we come forth as gold.
From the moment the zygote formed
At the first shocked cry
Till the final breath and beyond
Waters swell, swirl and tug
Fires roar and rage
The prowling lion circles
My heart and my strength may fail me
But I am HELD
Carved in the palm of His hand
He has willed that I should not perish
So I am HELD
Though my grip may loosen
Though I can’t see the way before me
I am HELD
By the One for whom darkness is light
Who guides my faltering steps
Who shelters me when my wick is smouldering.
The fires lick away at His hands
Clenched over the precious treasure guarded within
The fires die out helpless
Unable to get the treasure within.
The waters pull at His hands
Seeking to pluck out the clinging wretch
But His grip never loosens
And the Wretch lands on the lofty rock perch.
His hands give strength to my fingers
As they lock with mine o’er the sword
The prowling lion lies conquered
At tiny command of the Lord.
Fear burns up
Leaving golden faith
Faith in the Hands of the One who carries me.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy.
Deu 33:27 ESV
I have engraved you
on the palms of My Hands …
Isa 49:16 ESV
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God …
Isa 43:2-3 ESV
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
Psa 63:8 ESV
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
and the angel of His presence saved them;
in His love and in His pity he redeemed them;
He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Isa 63:9 ESV
Listen to me, …
who have been borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made,
and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
Isa 46:3-4 ESV
Utter fear and loneliness webbed themselves around Ishmael as he lay in the hopeful shade of the thorny lace leaved fronds, watching Hagar stagger away, her keening wail tearing the mocking silence of the desert. He just knew with without conscious thought that he was going to die. Ishmael shut his eyes against the piercing death gaze of the sun.
If things were the way they’d always been, he’d be lying on silken pillows in the dark smothering shade of the tent, listening to the restless shuffling of a thousand sheep and cattle, and the clicking of the herdsmen as they called out to the animals in their care. Abraham would tell him stories. Abraham… Ishmael curled himself into a tight ball and deep shuddering silent sobs shook him.
And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.”Gen 21:17
A thousand emotions and thoughts swirled and buzzed in Hagar, deafening her. She could not hear her son’s cry. She had nothing within her to give, not even comfort to her dying son.
“What troubles you Hagar?” – injustice? lack of water? no vision for the future? The certainty of lingering, painful death? “What troubles you?”
“Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; …” Gen 21:18
It is so easy isn’t it for us to become inward looking and focused on ourselves – our circumstances, our pain, our understanding of the way forward, our assessment of the resources that we can use to get out of the situation, that we forget to remember. We forget to remember there is One who Sees and does not forget. One who is merciful and able to cause the things we have abandoned without hope to breathe and live again. Hagar forgot to remember El Roi, the One who saw her when she was alone in the desert before. But El Roi did not forget!
Arise out of self-pity, fear, hopelessness, anger, bitterness, despair. Arise, lift up the Ishmaels you have cast into the shade to die. Arise, the Lord is with you. He has not abandoned you. He will surely show you the way forward.
So the LORD answers, “Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you.” Isa 49:15 GNB