One of my favorite writers, Paul Tripp, years ago wrote about phrases we use such as “hang in there.” As I reflected upon this idea, I wanted to share with you these thoughts. Have you ever been in the middle of a difficult season and someone says to you, “hang in there!”? Maybe you’ve said it to a friend just recently yourself. Last week, I sat with two precious friends of mine who were hurting and deeply wounded. I found myself thinking, “Hang in there, it will get better.” Thankfully, I did not say that! Primarily, because it does not always “get better” immediately or long-term.
I think we mean well with phrases like this, and our aim is to encourage our friends or loved ones, but let’s be honest: “hang in there” doesn’t actually do much to lift our spirits or strengthen our resolve.
If I can be even more honest, sometimes I think we say “hang in there” because we’re not prepared to minister to people who share their suffering with us. So, what should we say the next time someone opens up to us?
There are many things we can say, and we need to equip ourselves to comfort those in trouble (see 2 Corinthians 1:4). But, for the sake of today’s devotional, I want to examine a phrase that has given me much comfort: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)
“Hang in there” and “wait for the Lord” are similar because they both encourage us to endure difficulty. However, there’s a life-changing difference between the two: “Hang in there” hopes in the individual’s resolve while “wait on the Lord” hopes in God.
Why should you tell others to wait on the Lord? Here are four reasons (and I know you can find more in Scripture):
- LOVE: The Lord is not simply a loving God; no, he is the definition, the essence, and the source of love (1 John 4:8,16). We can “hang in there” when life gets hard because our destinies are held in the hands of the One who is love. Everything we experience, no matter how hard, is a result of God’s love in our life.
- WISDOM: Most people look for answers to life in experiences or research or data, but for the Christian, we find our wisdom for life in a relationship. The Lord is wisdom, just like He is love. That’s why Paul tells our hearts to be encouraged in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)
- POWER: It may not seem like it during times of difficulty, but our God is a God of unchallenged rule. We’re reminded of this so powerfully in Daniel 4:34-35 (print these verses out and post them in your house). We can “hang in there” when life gets hard because our stories are written by the One who is in absolute control of every element.
- GRACE: Grace, in this context, means God has given us everything we need to be what he wants us to be and to do what he calls us to do in the situation where he has placed us (2 Peter 1:3). We have a new identity and new potential, so we can face the difficulty realities of life without crumbling in fear.
So, the next time a friend, or loved one, shares their suffering with you, don’t advance the conversation with “hang in there.” Encourage them to wait on the Lord of love, wisdom, power and grace. Rather than being weakened by difficult circumstances, we can actually grow stronger as we wait!
Now that’s a reason to hang in there!