Keep Hanging On!

 

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Every day we say things which are not to be taken literally. If we’re not feeling well, we might say that “We’re under the weather” or that we “Feel like death”. That’s just a colourful way of expressing our feelings, and everybody understands that.

 

Literal or Figurative?

Sometimes metaphors are used which have a quite different meaning when applied literally. We might say that “My heart stopped when I saw it!”, when we really mean that we were very shocked at something we had seen.

But in a hospital ward that same phrase would have a crash team running, in the hope they could get the stopped heart working again.

Or take the expression “Keep Hanging On”, which is the sort of advice you would give to someone who is thinking of giving up in a difficult situation. It might be that at work their best efforts are not recognised, or they don’t get on with the boss. They might respond by saying “I’m hanging on by my fingernails”, which means that they are on the point of giving up, but they haven’t quite decided to do so.

Apply that language to rock climbing, however, and both expressions take on a very different significance. Hanging on is of the essence of the sport and when the rock face is difficult, sometimes it might feel as if you are just hanging on by your fingernails. But that is better than the alternative, especially if you are free climbing, without the support of a rope or other accessories.

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Trying Times

 

When God created the world He formed a paradise in Eden and life was good. Everything in the garden was fruitful and it could have stayed like that. Fertility and fruitfulness would have spread much further afield as the population grew and human society advanced. But it was not to be.

 

Adam and Eve disregarded God’s law and made their own choices, so they were expelled from the garden and life became harder for everyone. It was a deliberate act on God’s part to make life more difficult because He wanted to help people understand that if they turned to Him they could find a better and more rewarding life. This is how the apostle Paul expresses that in his letter to the believers at Rome:

 

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us … For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now (Romans 8:18–22).

 

God has engineered a situation which now enables us to look to Him for salvation, given that we can now see that there is no other way out of the muddle, confusion and hardship of life without God. And how has God engineered this situation? He has let mankind loose to govern His world without divine intervention, until that time when God will again take control.

World in a Mess

The suffering that now affects the western world following the financial chaos is the product of unchecked greed and human recklessness. Individuals, families and nations have been living beyond their means, everyone being encouraged to borrow more than they could afford, and to live on credit. With a crisis in the Eurozone, the dollar under some pressure now that the US credit rating has been downgraded, and with the threat of some nations having to default on their debts, commentators are now warning that another banking crisis is a possibility. And that crisis is one of many around the world as human society staggers on from one disaster to another.

Hard times have been experienced in the past, of course, and if the Lord Jesus remains away there will be worse times to come. But these things only really hit home when they affect us directly. We know how an illness can devastate a continent, just as the AIDS epidemic swept through Africa. But it is when we are told we have cancer, or when someone in our family dies of it, that the problem of illness and disease really hits home. And when medicine cannot help there is only one real answer.

Divine Physician

Jesus was once being challenged by religious authorities in Israel who were trying to prove him wrong and this is what he said to them:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

Those people thought they were cleverer and better than Jesus so did not come to him to be saved from sin. They didn’t think they needed help. Instead, they thought he needed their help and guidance! But Jesus had come to save sinners, if only they would recognise their sin and repent. That offer still stands, but so does the precondition. We will only go to a doctor if we think we are sick and we will only come to Jesus if we think we are sinners, in need of salvation. He can heal us from our deepest sickness, the one that is natural to our human condition – the sickness of sin. For God’s purpose is to change our natures and to make us like the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns to take over the rulership of the world:

Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself (Philippians 3:20–21).

We need to be patient as we await the glorious Second Coming of Jesus; but both the promises of Scripture and the mess the world is in assure us that he is indeed coming to reign. We should not lose heart but need to keep hanging on, believing and acting in a way which is pleasing to God.

 

 

 

This article is from Glad Tidings magazine. You can subscribe to receive a free copy of the Glad Tidings magazine each month by clicking on the logo below.

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