“Sustain” is a word with many meanings. Here are some of them, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: something that gives support, help, or strength; a supplying or being supplied with the necessaries of life; something that gives endurance; means of sustaining life, nourishment…
When you feel exhausted due to so many problems and injustices taking your peace, all you want is someone who can support you through the storm. Someone to help, protect, defend, encourage, strengthen and keep from falling.
When you recognize your weakness, you recognize your sinful nature, which is inclined to making mistakes, to fall easily and you understand that you cannot stand alone. In order to stand firm we need to be supported by Someone that is stronger than us. God promises in His Word that He would sustain us. No human being could ever be able to give us such guarantee.
As I read the New King James version of the Bible, one of the most faithful to the original translations, I understood what it takes to achieve this support:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41.10
See how God promises to sustain us! This translation of the Bible allowed me to better understand the depth of this verse. In traditional biblical versions it says “I will uphold you with my faithful right hand.” Think about it, “righteous right hand” is completely different from “faithful right hand.” When you read “faithful right hand”, you can count on God’s faithfulness but remain stationary, waiting to be sustained without doing anything about it, after all, God is faithful. But the “right hand of My righteousness” requires us to walk in His righteousness.
The first step is to be humble enough to take responsibility for your mistakes. As long as you keep blaming others for what happens to you, you will not be able to see that you have been walking in unrighteousness, and therefore you will not change direction and walk in righteousness. And if you are not walking in righteousness, how can you demand the Justice of God?
God’s Justice is only good for those who walk in righteousness. Who would be foolish enough to ask for God’s Justice, yet continue to walk in unrighteousness? When a thief comes before a judge to ask for justice, what do you think will happen to him? God’s Righteousness can only sustain those who are righteous. However, contrary to what many think, the righteous isn’t necessarily the good guy, or the religious.
Someone who committed a lifetime of crimes and mistakes, but truthfully decides to make a pact with God and turn away from the wrong life, living according to God’s guidance, that person becomes righteous before Him. However, more often than not, religious people are the ones who live in unrighteousness. They feel more righteous than others, they make a point to say that they’re tithers, offering givers, pray, fast, read the Bible, go to Church, evangelize, do this and that… and yet, they are also the ones bad mouthing others, looking with evil eyes, keeping grudges and being led by their hearts. They walk in unrighteousness and – worse – they are unable to see this. They expect the right hand of God’s righteousness to sustain them, but have no idea what they are asking for. For them, the only way is to follow the advice of the Word of God, while there is still time:
So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Joel 2.13
Faith has nothing to do with religious rituals, changing habits or anything that can be demonstrated on the outside. Faith has to do with our thoughts and reactions. Faith is defined by obedience to the Word of God.
Our thoughts, actions and reactions must be according to what God tells us they should be. If He commands us to forgive, we forgive. If He commands us to have good eyes, we strive to have good eyes. If He commands us to sacrifice our will, we sacrifice our will. If He commands us to rend our hearts, not our garments, we should stop worrying about what we’re doing on the outside and pay attention to who we are on the inside. It requires us to take an honest look inside ourselves and sincerely change the direction of our thoughts and our soul.
It requires sacrifice. Much more than putting a monetary value on the Altar. It hurts because we put ourselves in a very uncomfortable place, where we recognize just how fragile, sinful, weak and unrighteous we are; yet we seek God’s mercy and His goodness. It hurts to admit that we aren’t really who we would like to be, but it is the only way to be sustained rather than destroyed by His righteous right hand.
Without what sustains us – the righteous right hand of God – there is no balance, there is no way to maintain life. We become weak, frail and our fall is inevitable. Without His support, nothing remains standing.