The Sustaining Word
I don’t know about you, but one of the things I’m tempted by these days is sifting through seemingly endless articles about COVID-19. What are its effects? What are the economic and political effects of our actions (or lack thereof)? What should we be doing?
I realized last week that I was getting buried under a pile of words. Words of fear. Words of caution. Words of cynicism. Words of pessimism.
Scripture is clear that words are powerful. In Genesis 1, God’s words create the world in which we live. And today, whether we realize it or not, the words we take in shape our world. When I listen to endless streams of negative news, I begin to despair. When I listen to outrage over action taken (or not taken), I feel the anger inside me grow. The words we take in inevitably end up shaping us.
The author of Hebrews recognizes this, and points to the power of Jesus, God’s final and authoritative Word:
“In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (1:2-3)
When we are overwhelmed by the flood of words, we need to remember that Jesus is the sustaining Word. He holds the world in his hand, and he holds us in his hands. He is the word that brings creation and the word that brings redemption.
The hard lesson I’m learning day by day is to let Jesus be my sustaining word, and let all those other things be stripped away. So often what sustains me is getting my work done, feeling like I’m accomplishing something, and numerous interactions with friends and colleagues. I’m sustained by shopping and sports (RIP March Madness). I’m sustained by planning a lesson and having a good class.
All this is making me ask: what really sustains me? This past week, I keep hearing Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26-27: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Jesus is reminding us again: he sustains us. It’s not on us. It’s on him.
So in this time of stress and a cacophony of words from all directions, don’t be overwhelmed. Don’t lose heart. Don’t despair.
Listen to the sustaining Word.