In the ups and downs of life it can be difficult to believe that God is really there for me. One of the reasons I struggle with this at times is because I do not have deep understanding of the character of God. Another reason is because I tend to go by my feelings instead of the truths I know about God.
I have set out on a journey to learn more about the character and truths of God to help keep my faith stable.
God, a Keeper of Old
In the Old Testament there are many beautiful descriptions of God, one of them being that He is our Keeper. One sense in which God is our Keeper is that He keeps us within His presence during times of difficulty.
In Psalm 31:19-20 we see that God keeps His goodness stored up for us during times of difficulty, and He keeps us our hearts safe in His presence during times of challenge and trouble.
“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up (tsaphan) for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep (tsaphan) them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.”(NASB)
In Isaiah 26:3, we learn that God keeps faithful watch over us, so that even in times of trouble or sorrow, He is there watching over us and assisting us through our trials.
“You keep (natsar) him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
In Psalm 12:7, David uses the Hebrew word “shamar” in this psalm to indicate God as a keeper who builds a spiritual hedge around our heart so that we are not spiritually destroyed during dark times. So, in a sense, God keeps us so that we can keep holding onto God.
“You, O Lord, will keep (shamar) them; You will preserve (natsar) him from this generation forever.” Ps. 12:7
David is an example of someone going through significant trials, especially in reference to his relationship with Saul, yet, even in the midst of his troubles David understands that God “keeping” him.
Jesus An Appointed Keeper
I am very drawn to the picture of Jesus as our keeper in John 6:37.
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
The expression “drive away” is associated with Jesus as our keeper. “Drive away” means cast out or banish. In a sense Jesus will not remove us as a part of Him. He will not withdraw His love or step back from a relationship with us. He keeps us.
In some instances the term “drive away” carries the connotation of being “rejected or cast away” as in John 9:39, “They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out (of the synagogue).”
I find this thought reassuring that even in my inner struggles and trials of life, Jesus will keep holding onto me. This is a remarkable truth, especially considering during these times I may not be thinking and saying uplifting things about or to God.
Hear It Again
Jesus wants us to get this truth about “keeping us.” In the same chapter of John two verses following verse 36, this truth is repeated again using slightly different words. Jesus is driving this point home.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.” John 6:39
The term “lose none” implies keeping, protecting and guiding so that we do not perish but rather hold onto eternal life. This term brings up pictures of the story of the Father and his prodigal son, as well as the Good Shepherd guarding and leading His sheep.
John 6:39 brings out another encouraging truth about God and that is: it is God’s will, His preferred desire, His deliberate intention for us to be kept. This reveals the heart of God towards us that He wants us to be in a right relationship with Him. He sent His Son to be the atonement for our sins so that we can be in a right relationship with Him and then in that relationship He “holds onto us.”
Take a Spiritual Selfie
Meditate on these passages and study them out for yourself. Let the picture of what they say be engraved in your heart. Take a picture of Jesus with you as your “keeper.” What do you see?
The next time you are undergoing difficulty, hanging on the precipice of fear, and doubt; and wondering where God is – pull up this picture and let the truth behind it uphold you.