I heard the phrase again this week, I think it was in the context of a conversation with a couple of my friends. The one man said he was having a tough time in some situation at work, and the other man said what we so often hear when someone is in a tight situation, Hang in there!
I’m sure you have seen that very cute poster of the kitten perilously hanging from a rope with just one tiny claw dug into the strands of hemp, and the caption is, Hang in there, Baby! It is as if the lives of some people are in just that much danger. Just one more thing, and over the edge they fear they might go.
And I think many a Christian believer has that sense from time to time. Feeling so perilously close to utter life and even soul disaster that we fear just the slightest bit of pressure or weight will make us lose our grip.
But, if you stop to think about life from the perspective of the Bible, you will realize that we often have it all backward. It is not I that hang on to God. It is not I that might lose my grip on my salvation, my joy, my hope, my heaven. I am not to hang on to anything of my own. Why? Because the Gospel tells us that it is God who holds on to me!
Jesus taught his disciples, and us, this truth in the context of the whole chapter about Jesus being the Good Shepherd- He said:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them our my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them our of the Father’s hand.
That grand truth is this: that anyone who has a saving union with Christ by faith stands secure. That is true because it is never what we do, how well we hang in there, in the midst of struggle and pain, sorrow and heart ache, trial and even temptation. It is what Christ has done for us in history that secures our right standing with God. We believers are always secure because we stand clothed in his righteousness, given to us by our Father in heaven.
But in few pages over in John’s Gospel Jesus improves even on that wonderful thought. He tells us that if we are united to him by faith- we are part of him, as a branch is part of a vine- and in the middle of those trying – He calls them pruning, times- those who are in him by faith- are not just surviving, but surely bearing the fruit of God’s grace in life.
Read that fifteenth chapter of John today, and you will see that even though there may be trouble and sorrow in life- it is not for us to consider- hanging on by a thread- but it is abiding in the true vine that assures us of producing fruit to the glory of God, and even for our own good.
- It is in those hard times that we, and even others, can observe the peace of God ruling our thoughts, our emotions and our decisions.
- It is in the time of trial that we can have the joy of reflecting on the fact that whatever we suffer here and now is not worthy to be compared with the sheer perfection of heaven with God, forever.
- It is in the time of suffering, suffering for being a believer, that we display the genuine compassion for those who do not know our Savior and King.
I don’t know what some of you listeners are up against today, but your Father in heaven does, and he wants you to know that you are secure with him by your faith in the saving work of Jesus, and you can show the fruit of a conquering child of God in all of your life. He will give you grace and strength. Trust him for it.
This is pastor Gerald Malkus, I am pastor of Jehoash Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Catlett, VA, and I am your pastor for this Day.