Hanging On

Hanging On by Eddie Askew

It all seemed fine, Lord,

Walking along, not a care in the world, everything going right.

I was even remembering to say the occasional thank you to you,

when it changed.

The sun clouded over: A cold wind blew out of nowhere.

The first drop of rain splattered down

hitting the warm, dry earth of my path with a finality

that said the weather’s changed. I shivered.

Lord, when things go wrong help me to remember the good times.

When my life with you, and my fellow Christians,

hits rock bottom and I find it hard to take,

stay with me.

No, that’s wrong, Lord. You are with me,

I know it.

Just help me to feel it.

Not just the theory, but the experience.

When I’m disappointed

and hurt by outside events,

by the way others behave,

when I’m honest enough to look at myself

and admit that the fault often lies inside me,

then let me feel you near.

And when the pain is bad,

when the sheer effort of keeping my feet

moving along your road,

when the scenic route through the mountains

-AA recommended –

turns into the rocky path of a small Calvary,

give me the strength to go on.

It would be easy, sometimes, to give up.

To drop out at the roadside, a casualty.

A great future behind me.

I’m not sure, at times, why I do go on, until,

when I get out onto the other side of the pain,

and warm myself again in your sunshine,

I know.

You were with me. Are with me.

Lord, I pray for those

in the middle of their pain barrier today.

Trying to stay on the road, putting everything they’ve got

into the effort of getting through to the night.

Through the cloud of uncertainty,

may they be sure of your love.

In the loneliness,

may they feel your arm slipped through theirs.

In the darkness of depression,

may they hold on to the promise of your light.

Help us, Lord,

Just to keep moving.

From his obituary in The Guardian (2007)
“Eddie Askew, the former general director of the Leprosy Mission (TLM) … devoted half a century to the disease and its consequences. …
Inspired by his travels and his Christian faith, Eddie found an outlet for his creativity in painting and poetry. A Silence and a Shouting, his first book of meditations and artwork, was published in 1982. It was followed, over the years, by 16 others, and the sale of his books and paintings raised around £2.5m for TLM.”

The Twenty Third Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
   He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom Of The Twenty-Third Psalm

The following is an excerpt from The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom Of The Twenty-Third Psalm by Harold S. Kushner.

“When we are frightened because the world is a scary place, God is with us. If He cannot always protect us from harm or from our own mistakes, He can ease our fears and our pain by being with us.

When we are exhausted because the world asks so much of us, God gives us times and places of refuge from the claims of the world, to calm and restore our souls. God renews our strength so that we can “mount up with wings as eagles” and continue tirelessly to do what is right.

When we are terrified at the prospect of losing control over our emotions and doing ourselves serious harm, God is with us to help us do things with Him at our side that we were not sure we could do alone.

When illness, bereavement, and the losses that come with age cast a shadow over our lives, God is there to fill the empty space, to remind us that shadows are cast only because the sun is shining somewhere, to take us by the hand and lead us through the valley of the shadow and into the sunlight.

When events in our world bring us dismay and we fear that evil is prospering, God reminds us that evil acts invariably carry the seeds of their own destruction.

When people disappoint us, when they cannot give us what we need, whether because our needs are too great or because their emotional resources are too meager, God is our reliable friend, and inexhaustible source of love and strength.

And when we find ourselves wandering aimlessly, through the world, wondering why we are here and what our lives will have meant when they are over, God blesses us with a sense of purpose, a challenge, a list of moral obligations and opportunities, every one of which will give us the sense of living our days in His presence.

There is pain in the world. If we are to be truly alive, we cannot hide from it. But we can survive it, and God’s caring presence lessens the pain.

There is death in the world, robbing us of the ones we love and one day robbing them of our presence. But God who is immortal assures us that death may take a person out of our future but cannot remove him from our past, that all the things we loved a person for have entered so deeply into our souls that they remain part of us. The Lord gives, but the Lord does not take away, and their presence is every bit as real as their absence.

There is fear in the world. There is vulnerability and uncertainty. God cannot tell us that nothing bad will ever happen to us. But God can tell us that we need not be afraid of the future, no matter what it holds. He cannot protect you from evil without taking away from other people the human power of choosing between good and bad. He cannot protect you from illness or bad luck. He cannot spare you from death and let you and those around you live forever. But He can give you the resources to transcend and overcome those fears, so that bad luck never causes you to lose faith in yourself, so that bad people never cause you to lose faith in humanity, so that the inevitability of death never causes you to give up on the holiness of life.

There will be dark days, days of loss and days of failure, but they will not last forever. The light will always return to chase away the darkness, the sun will always come out again after the rain, and the human spirit will always rise above failure. Fear will assault us, but we will not be afraid, “for Thou art with me.”

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.