Supporting Arms

As a writer, words are important to me. I can (and do) spend hours finding just the right words to convey my message when I write, and a well-written worship song—especially one that echoes God’s own words to us—will have me raising my hands in praise. But all too often, finding just the right words to say eludes me. My mouth is much less wise than my fingers, often blurting out ill-advised words that have little thought put into them. In the moment, when what one says is what counts, I fall incredibly short.

Last night, I didn’t have the words to say. I felt helpless to help my husband. He was hurting, anxious, and a little lost, wanting to cling to and draw strength from God but not quite sure how to do so. His mother, in her late eighties, was admitted to the hospital yesterday. The doctors have located the problems but can’t offer any real medical solutions. My husband’s is a position many of us have been in, and at the end of the day I found myself, as I have in years past, trying to encourage and support him as he learns how to lean on God. But I felt incredibly inadequate to the task. And even as I offered Bible verses to respond to the concerns he voiced, I wanted to run and hide. I know how much supporting him in times like this will cost me, and I don’t have the strength to endure it.

That’s just it, though, isn’t it? I don’t need the words, and I don’t need the strength. Instead, I have to trust that God will provide both the words and the strength, for me and for my husband. Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what they would say, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:12, NIV). And when Moses doubted whether he was up to the task that God had given to him,

The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Ex. 4:11-12, NIV)

And although I forget time and time again—even as I am counseling others to do so—I need to rely on God, not on myself, for strength, for that is when his glory is revealed: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV).

What I do need to do—what I am called to do in times like these—is offer my husband what support I can. Sometimes, when the words to a worship song are right and it seems fitting to lift up my hands in praise, my arms tire but I resist putting them down until the verse or chorus has passed. At times like those I think of Moses, lifting up his hands and the staff of God in support of Israel as they fought Amalek (Ex. 17:8-16). When Moses lifted the symbol of God’s power and presence into the air, the Israelites prevailed in the battle. But when Moses began to tire and his arms fell, the Israelites began to lose. It is then, when he was tired and Israel was losing, that God called upon Aaron and Hur to come alongside Moses and lift his hands up for him, “one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Ex. 17:12).

When I was facing my own inadequacy last night, I texted a friend of ours to (again) ask for prayer, letting him know of my own struggles. He responded, “You will be exactly what [your husband] needs when he needs it. God has equipped you with everything that you need to get through this.” God hasn’t called upon me to be strong, but he has called upon me to support my husband, to hold up his arms, to carry his burdens (Gal. 6:2). In turn, I am able to cast my own cares on him (I Peter 5:7) and, in him, find rest (Matt. 11:29-30).

This afternoon, as I struggled with finding the words to finish this post, our friend texted me again: “Praying for you today!” It turns out, that as I have been working (writing) to hold up my husband’s arms through prayer, through study, through understanding, others have been holding up mine in turn. The Bible doesn’t tell us that anyone came along to help Aaron or Hur, but in my imagination I can see a chain of people holding the arms of my husband, his mother, his family, and even me up in prayer. Even in the midst of uncertainty surrounding my mother-in-law, we can rest in the arms of our Lord and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Praise the Lord.

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