What sustains you?
The Oxford Dictionary defines sustain as to “strengthen or support physically or mentally; bear (the weight of an object) without breaking or falling.”
Sustain is defined by dictionary.com as “to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure; to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.”
What gives you the physical and mental strength to bear difficulty without breaking?
What supports you and keeps you from giving way under the weight of trials or affliction?
What sustains you when troubles come?
In his book Soul Keeping, John Ortberg says, ”Sooner or later, your world will fall apart. What will matter then is the soul you have constructed”.
David, the psalmist King, knew this.
In his psalms, we see David’s soul under construction. He writes of battles and betrayals, of disease and despair, and of searching for God in the midst of life’s most difficult moments. In each trial, David learned through experience to trust God’s faithful love more and more.
David discovered that his help, his sustainer, is not a what, but a Who.
God is my helper;
the Lord is the sustainer of my life.
David learned to trust in God’s character in times of trouble, the character revealed in God’s name.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.
The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you
because you have not abandoned
those who seek you, Lord.
David learned to talk to God, to share the anguish of his soul and to ask for what he needed.
Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
My heart is in anguish within me;
. . .
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
Psalm 55:1-4a, 22 NIV
I call on you, God,
because you will answer me;
listen closely to me; hear what I say.
David learned to talk to his soul, to remind himself to deliberately place his hope in God and to choose praise in the midst of turmoil.
Why, my soul, are you so dejected?
Why are you in such turmoil?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him,
my Savior and my God.
But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
Psalm 71:14 NIV
David learned the one thing necessary to construct a soul that can withstand troubled times: to seek God.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:1, 3-5 NIV
David constructed a soul that depended completely on God to sustain him in difficult times.
We can too.
When troubles come, we can first look up to God, our Helper, instead of frantically looking around for help.
We can choose to trust in God’s character and His faithful love.
We can talk to God honestly about our struggles and ask Him for what we need.
We can preach the truth to ourselves, building a foundation of hope in God that can withstand the storm of feelings that rise up in times of crisis.
We can seek God in the midst of difficulty, orienting our soul toward Him by reading His Word to remind us of who He is and taking refuge in the shelter of His faithful love.
Like David, we can see every trial as an opportunity to seek God, to trust God more, and to fortify our souls with His faithful love and truth.
We can trust God to sustain us, no matter what comes our way.