“Just hang in there!” His words were meant to encourage me.
The burden was heavy. I had carried it for many years. I knew he meant well. I smiled: “What else can you do?” I replied.
We’ve all heard phrases from well-meaning friends who try to bolster our spirits when life is hard.
Memes are plentiful on Facebook from our Christian friends who intend to inspire hope and encourage confidence that God is about to turn our circumstances around, bless us in overwhelming measures, and promise us a breakthrough… if we just hang in there!
Not all of our friends are as kind!
It’s common when we have no answers as to why prolonged misery occurs, to assume that the one encountering distress must be doing something wrong.
“Evidently, she is not walking with God the way she should.” “He’s apparently not making positive confessions of faith.” Like Job’s comforters who are out of answers, it’s convenient to conclude that the testing must be a result of “sin.”
Whether the words of our friends are intended to encourage or provide some form of justification for the unanswerable questions frequently posed by pain… they too often fall short in bolstering our spirits.
We want to remain faithful in trusting God. We know it’s important not to give up. We’ve been raised to believe that overcoming requires perseverance. And, if we will just hang in there long enough, we will find our breakthrough.
But is that always the case? And, might there be times when letting go is suitable?
Most of us will experience moments when testing challenges our tenacity. Our ability to endure falls short of our capability. We recognize that even though our friends mean well, their words seem shallow and insufficient to lift the weight of a weary soul.
The Psalmist is intimately familiar with despair:
“My soul is greatly troubled” (Ps. 6:3); “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also” (Ps. 31:9). “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Ps. 42:5).
While perhaps not on the same level as the Psalmist David’s anguish, we will encounter trials, which can cloud our faith. And, discovering hope (as David did) requires letting go!
However, letting go is not the same as quitting!
David’s distress turns to anticipation when he re-focuses his attention from his problem and remembers God’s faithfulness, protection, and steadfast love he encountered in the past (see Psalm 42).
David implements a healthy “self-talk” that confronts the smothering weight of a heavy heart:
“…Why are you so downcast my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” - Ps. 42:5,11 (ESV).
What’s your struggle? Is it time to let go?
Letting go of our insistence to find answers as to “why,” is a courageous act of submitting to God’s sovereignty. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past, ignites hope that God is present with us now. And…
… Letting go opens our hands — and hearts — to see the salvation of God.