After a long day at the office, I pushed the elevator button and sighed. A colleague who was also on his way out looked over and asked how I was doing.
I issued what had recently become my standard response to such inquiries: “I’m hanging in there.”
“Try holding on instead,” my coworker suggested. “Hold onto Him.”
The words thrummed in my head as I edged through rush-hour traffic. Stress, strife, heartaches and headlines all made me want to reach for God, but in my weariness, I wasn’t sure I had much of a grip.
And yet Scripture urges us to take hold of the Lord in the very moments we’d like to throw up our hands in defeat. The woman who had suffered for 12 long years with hemorrhages pushed through a dense crowd to touch Jesus’ cloak (Mt 9:20-22, Mk 5:25-34, Lk 8:43-48). Having already “suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors,” and having “spent all that she had” only to “[grow] worse” (Mk 5:26), she could have been forgiven for simply “hanging in there” — resigning herself to a condition that, according to the Mosaic law, rendered her an unclean outcast, left to eke out an existence on the margins of society.
Instead, she stretched forth her arms in faith, and for her tenacity she received from Christ both a cure and a commendation: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction” (Mk 5:34).
Moses repeatedly exhorted the Israelites to “hold fast” to the Lord alone (Deut 10:20, 11:22, 13:5). He well knew both the cost and the comfort of those words: battling Amalek, the Israelites triumphed as “Moses kept his hands raised up” (Ex 17:11) until sunset, even supported in his fatigue by Aaron and Hur (Ex 17:8-16).
The victory was complete; the Lord promised to “completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens” (Ex 17:14). Joshua, commander of the troops, may well have recalled that conquest when, nearing death, he echoed Moses’ plea for Israel cling to the Lord (Jos 23:8).
The divine embrace is more than just reciprocal; it’s actually initiated by heaven: “I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’” (Is 41:13). The One who made us richly rewards those humble enough to clasp his waiting arms: “Because he clings to me I will deliver him” (Ps 91:14).
Once we take hold of the Lord, we can climb up into his arms and rest: “Even when your hair is gray I will carry you; I have done this, and I will lift you up, I will carry you to safety” (Is 46:4).
Such trust confounds a world that all too often idolizes the work of its own hands: power, wealth, recognition. But the surest things we grasp in life are those unbeheld by the eye — above all, the unseen yet no less real form of a God who rescues us from an existence of simply “hanging in there” to a life and love worth holding onto forever.
Gina Christian is a senior content producer for CatholicPhilly.com and host of the Inside CatholicPhilly.com podcast. Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
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