When you are going through tough times, fellow Christians like to advise to hold on to Jesus or standing on God’s promises. That’s all good and well. But what does that mean in a practical sense?
Considering that the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus was the word of God, made flesh (read John chapter 1) am I to grab the bible and physically cling to it, no matter if the pointy edges of the book poke me in the chest? Should I write out promises found in the word of God, place the piece of paper on the floor and then stand on it? And what are God’s promises?
Okay, you can facepalm right about now, maybe smirk just a little.
We cling to Jesus when we pray and read the word of God. While we are reading we speak to God and say something like, “yes I want this, or God help me in this area.” We call this devotional reading.
We stand on God’s promises when we study, contemplate and pray out a specific promise found in the bible. That is we may take this verse and pray it out to God. This is similar to devotional reading, but this is something we do repeatedly. Every day, for maybe months or years. You eventually commit to memory this specific scripture. And while this is a nice habit, you can’t simply grab scripture verses out of context without fully understanding them.
If you are really going to stand on the word of God, take some time to study the context. Study the surrounding verses, chapters and get a good overall feel for the individual book, you are reading. Who was the author? Who was his intended audience for this writing? What was the situation this audience was currently going through? And how does this specific book fit into the mosaic of the whole bible?
There are plenty of good free resources online to help you. I like the Faithlife Study Bible and the Lexham Bible Dictionary. You can get an excellent general feel, on most passages. Another free online tool is to compare Bible versions. YouVersion, Bible Gateway and many other online Bible reading platforms make it very easy to compare the different verses.
Bible translators sometimes use different approaches to translate something. Since most of us are not fluent in biblical languages, doing this, we can get a better feel on the original Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic.
We can also use bible commentaries. Logos currently has a sale for the month of July 2021. You can check it out by clicking on the picture.
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This sounds like a lot of time-consuming study. And it is. It is also so worth it. It is a lifelong pursuit.
I set out to write this post with some practical tips. We are globally facing a challenge. Currently, Covid-19 is hitting hard in my area, with the so-called third-wave. And if you are looking for some rock-solid promises from God to stand on, here are a few selected, which I turn to.
God is always with you. He never leaves, nor forsakes you.
This is always true, even if you are stuck in a dark cave filled with only lifelessness. When you feel you are navigating a slippery area filled with sharp stones and boulders, and fog that does not allow you to see clearly. This is also true if you are physically in a dangerous, desperate, or uncertain position.
This is a promise you can find in several bible verses.
“I will never desert you, and I will never abandon you.Hebrews 13:5
This is a reference to Genesis 28:15, Deuteronomy 31:6, or Joshua 1:5. Each of these passages is written to people who find themselves in uncertain times. These specific scriptures speak about being courageous or not afraid because God is right there where they are at, he is also right there where you are at.
This is also something Jesus promises right before his ascent into Heaven.
“I am with you all the days until the end of the age”
A portion of Mt 28:20 (LEB)
Nothing in all creation can ever separate you from the love of God
God loves you deeply, unconditionally. There is nothing you can do, no situation you can get into, no person, no entity or power which will ever change this.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8: 39 & 39
We also find this sentiment in other biblical passages. My favourite being Jeremia 31:3
“I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with loyal love.”Jeremia 31:3 (LEB)
The words translated as “loyal love” can also be translated as “unconditional love.”
There is an excellent article in the Lexham Bible Dictionary, on the use of the word “love” in the bible. And looking at 1 Corinthians 13 helps us grasp what this love means.
“Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not boast, it does not become conceited, it does not behave dishonourably, it ⌊is not selfish⌋, it does not become angry; it does not keep a record of wrongs, it does not rejoice at unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Cor 13: 4 to 8
Love never ends.”
God will work out all things for the good of those who love him
This is another promise we find in Romans Chapter 8.
I dig a bit deeper into this promise on this post.
Your death matters to God
This last one is less of a promise and more of a truth.
In my struggle with severe depression, I frequently fell into thought patterns, like spiraled lies drove me into deep inner turmoil. One of these lies was that nobody would care if I should die.
We are currently being so overwhelmed with the constant news of death rates, and new burial procedures, and even loved ones we know dying. The fact that we must all exit this life is in the forefront of our mind.
Let me slap you with some truth. God cares deeply about your life, your living, and your death. He also cares about the people in your life who have passed away, especially those who belonged to him.
He cares about your death, trouble, sorrow, and grief.
In another translation, the word “costly” above is translated as “precious.” The death of His faithful ones, his beloved children, this death it is precious and costly in Yahweh’s sight. Yahweh is the covenant name of God. This means we call on his promise made to us, when we remember this name, and we remember we are in a covenant (that is like a marriage contract type of) relationship with Him.
In John chapter 11 we find Jesus weeping when he comes across the mourners. He knew he would awaken Lazarus from his death, even so, he was deeply troubled. He wept because the people wept, and compassion moved him. In the same sense, it intensely troubles God when we mourn.
He wants to wipe away every tear from your eye. This is something God profoundly desires, which is why when we get to heaven, there will be no more sorrow and no more pain. This is the hope Christians exclusively can cling to. (Read Revelation 21:4)
But until then, I hope this post gives you some idea of how to stand on God’s promises, cling to Jesus, and cling to truth. Read your bible. Meditate on the scripture references I’ve included in this post. Find more which speak to you. Really dig into their meaning. And don’t stop doing so.
What are your favorite scriptures to hang on to during trying times?