“Uphold me, as you promised; and I will live; don't disappoint me in my hope (Psalm 119:116 CJB).
Most of us question a spiritual matter at some time or another, some of us more than others. We may question ‘eternal security’ or if or when the ‘rapture’ will take place, or any number of other things. But one thing we don’t usually question is our Savior’s love for us, even at those times when we may not feel worthy of His great love, we still know it’s there. Jesus left us a beautiful example of His boundless love when He chose to be with His imperfect disciples just before He was crucified. “And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;” Luke 22:15 (NASB).
But what about those times when it seems that God is withholding an answer to some prayer? We still don’t question whether He loves us or not, but when days turn into weeks and weeks into months, and as in my case, the months become years, it causes us to seek answers. I wondered if I am being punished for something or am I no longer useful to God’s kingdom, however, none of that matches the message of scripture. Sometimes though, that nagging accusation from the Adversary echoes quite loudly in my head – the one where he says that if I were really God’s child, really a Christian, I wouldn’t be having this seemingly never-ending misery.
I started thinking about the many promises in the Bible that tell us how God always takes care of us and causes everything to work out for our good, and found encouragement from Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB) Yet, I keep thinking of how my three unsaved brothers would react, knowing what the last three years have been like for me, if I told them God has my situation under control and will vindicate and deliver me in His timing, because He promised He would. It would be something like, “Yeah, sure. I don’t need that kind of tender loving care.” And I become even sadder.
Then, as I was praying not long ago, the name of God as our Sustainer jumped out at me and I could not get it off my mind. I found a lot of references pertaining to physical sustaining, meaning food, clothing, and shelter. Not to sound like I am demeaning that, because I certainly am not, but in my 68 years, the last 47 of them as a Christian, I have witnessed His physical providing more times than I can count. And there are plenty of declarations in His Word of how He keeps our entire universe functioning as He designed it to, none of which I doubt, but now I am looking for a sustaining of a different type. For now, I need the “upholding” kind of sustaining until His promised deliverance comes.
As I was looking for an article or sermon concerning God as our ‘upholding’ sustainer I found this paragraph by Christopher D. Hudson.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7…Are you going through a difficult situation in your life right now? Are there circumstances that you cannot understand? Instead of trying to fix it or control it, rather than trying to figure out the what, when, where and why of your struggle, focus instead on God your sustainer.
What circumstances do you face that only God can change?
Do you trust him to do that?
Do you have trouble believing that nothing is too difficult for God?
Thought to focus on: God Is Your Sustainer.”
I’ve been trying to do that. And I have found that my nature wants to do the other – the “figure out the what, when, where and why” of my situation and why it continues for so long. I kept looking for help to bring all this into focus, something to help me balance out accepting all that God allows us to go through with meditation and prayer, in order to understand my circumstances and be at peace with the timetable.
In an effort to follow Mr. Hudson’s advice, I was reading some sermons that Charles Spurgeon preached about depression and he uses Elijah to point out some very significant points. He said, “Nobody doubts that Elijah was a child of God! Nobody questions the fact that God loved him even when he sat fainting under the juniper tree, for He manifested special love to him then–so let no despondent heart, no broken spirit, no discouraged soul say–
“My God has quite forsaken me,
My God will be gracious no more”–
for it is not true! The Lord did not forsake Elijah and He will not forsake you if you trust in Him.” (Elijah Fainting sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon 1880)
After reviewing Elijah’s amazing deeds calling fire down from heaven to prove the Baal worshipers wrong and then a few days later huddling under a juniper bush trying to hide from Jezebel, Spurgeon summarizes a lesson to be learned from this event in Elijah’s life.
“As he had risen high, so he fell low. As he had soared, he must descend… It seems to be the way with us all–we must pay the price for any joy that we experience. We cannot have great exhilaration without having some measure of depression afterwards. Do not condemn yourself if this is your lot. Do not excuse yourself if there is any measure of unbelief mingled with your depression, but do not condemn yourself for what is really as natural a result as the retirement of the sea after its waves have kissed the cliff. It must be so–night must follow day, winter must succeed to summer–and joyful spirits that rise aloft must sink again. We may sometimes wish that we could always keep on the level ground where some of our dear friends live. I have often envied them, especially when I have been down in the dumps. But when I have again ascended to the heights, I have not envied them in the least. At such times I would have pulled them up with me if it had been possible! But that I could not do. So, dear Friend, you may depend upon it that you cannot be Elijah upon Carmel without the probability that you will be Elijah under a juniper bush before long. The great Prophet of fire proves himself to be only a man, after all–and in the time of testing you, also, will be as weak as other men.” That reminds me of what I have heard said several times, “you can’t live on the mountaintop all the time. If there were no valleys there would be no mountaintops.”
God sustained King David through numerous highs and lows, including the “upholding” kind. The first scripture I found pertaining to my needed sustaining is Psalm 54:4-5 (ESV)
4 Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. 5 He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.
Even though David wrote this short psalm relating to battle with enemies of his people, I do believe it applies just as well to our personal trials, even the ones that feel like unbearable circumstances to us.
David continues to expound upon his situation and how it is affecting him in the very next psalm where we find this oft quoted verse: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22 ESV)
One day soon I will be able to praise God from the mountaintop having finally delivered me from this seemingly interminably long sojourn in a very dark valley.
Just a few more of the promises from God that declare His sustaining love that I am working on memorizing in the meantime:
Deuteronomy 31:6 CJB
Be strong, be bold, don't be afraid or frightened of them, for ADONAI your God is going with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:8 (CJB)
But ADONAI - it is he who will go ahead of you. He will be with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you, so don't be afraid or downhearted.
Psalm 145:18 (ESV)
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Isaiah 46:4 (NASB)
Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.
Isaiah 41:10 (CJB)
“Don't be afraid, for I am with you; don't be distressed, for I am your God. I give you strength, I give you help, I support you with my victorious right hand.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NASB)
For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.