“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24, NIV
Have you ever wondered what it meant, practically, “for the Lord to uphold you with his hand”? On a daily basis I spend time with hurting people who would give anything to experience this; to know what it truly means to have God hold them in their situations and direct their steps. The truth is, many are experiencing it; they just don’t know it or believe it because it doesn’t look the way they think it should, and so they begin to lose hope.
Several years ago, God gave me a very clear picture of what it means to be “upheld by his hand” in the simplicity of a hummingbird. My family was in the process of moving, and my husband was cleaning out and making repairs to our old house. It was a beautiful summer day so he had the patio door open, when suddenly in swooped the most beautiful hummingbird. It fluttered about the living room seemingly happy at first, but you could almost sense when it realized it was not where it was supposed to be. Immediately it took action, darting swiftly at what it thought to be an open window, but instead found itself crashing into the invisible glass. Over and over the scene repeated, this beautiful creature continuing to struggle, looking for a way out, and yet quite literally beating itself to death against the window.
My husband’s heart broke watching the little bird struggle, so he tried something that to my astonishment worked. He simply held out his hand. In what I am sure was complete exhaustion, the hummingbird landed. Unprecedented! There this tiny bird sat, just trying to catch its breath. At this point, my husband made several attempts to quietly and slowly move towards the open door behind him. Each time he got close, the little bird became fearful and would fly off; once again repeating its efforts of crashing into the window.
It was obvious that the hummingbird would not live much longer if this behavior continued; its little heart could only take so much. So for the fourth time my husband held out his hand and the hummingbird landed. This time however, my husband took a different approach. The hummingbird was too afraid and obviously could not see the bigger picture that my husband was trying to help it, trying to protect it by moving in a different direction. So very quietly, very calmly, very slowly my husband reached out with his free hand and tenderly grabbed the bird from behind. Only its little head and beak could be seen in the massive hand that surrounded its little body. To my surprise, it didn’t struggle but rested in the hand that then carried it to the door and set it free. Amazing!
I couldn’t help but think about this incident in direct relation to the above Psalm. How many times do we “stumble”? How many times do we find ourselves in situations or seasons of life where we are hopeless and flailing about, so breathless, so fearful, so frightened because we can’t see a way out? We may find brief moments of solace and rest in God’s hand when we are exhausted, but then once again we try to find our own way and end up beating our heads against the “invisible glass” because we think we know what’s best.
It doesn’t have to be this way. What I know to be absolutely true from this lesson from a hummingbird is that God will only let his children go so far before he finally reaches down, wraps his loving hand around them and moves them, in love, in the direction he has been gently trying to lead them all along. When you are in the hand of God, rest assured you are safe and that is your hope. His ways are always perfect and he will never take you in any direction to harm you. It may not be what you expect. It may not even be what you want at the time, but you can trust that God is faithful to lead you to a place of freedom in whatever your situation or struggle.
For Your Reflection…
How do you want to be led? Safely resting in God’s hand, letting him uphold you, and trusting that he sees what you can’t? Or, exhausted, beat-up, and potentially abruptly moved in the direction you’ve needed to go all along?