A lovely friend recently gifted me with a copy of the newly-released She Reads Truth Bible. I’ve never read the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) before, but today, while looking up my favorite verse (requested for an interview–I wanted to make sure I was quoting it correctly) a subtle difference in wording grabbed my heart in a way that reminded me of my very real need to “hold on” and to be HELD—a theme in my novel Intermission, some of you may recall.
The verse is this:
“Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10 (CSB — emphasis mine)
Because I memorized this verse from the NIV a long time ago (Vacation Bible School, sometime around 3rd grade, I think) my eyes slid right over that subtle change, missing it the first (and second!) time through. In the NIV, the last part of the verse reads, “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” — which is also wonderfully visual and comforting. The NIV version allows me to picture myself as completely supported, above the fray. Sheltered, hidden, and utterly protected.
But that is not the exact same picture the CSB speaks into my heart.
I didn’t catch it until I read the verse for the third time. But then?
Wham. Thunk. OH.
Oh, my. There you are.
Emmanuel, God with us.
I am in the midst of a season in which I have no choice but to walk blindly along paths I did not expect and to face beasts I don’t know how to fight—and some I cannot fight, but must befriend (or at the very least, find a way by which we can coexist along the rocky path.) Some days, the only thing I can see clearly is the swirling mire below, or the dark, open jaws of uncertainty, whose bared claws reach, reach, reach for my ankles, just waiting for me to slip and fall.
I’m not being held above the fray or apart from it. “Above the fray” is not an option. Escape, hiding . . . those words are not a part of my story right now.
BUT (I am such a fan of that word when used in God-context!) I am being held on to by a Divine Grip . . . and there is something undeniably, desperately sweet about knowing God is holding on to me with his righteous right hand as I stutter and trip and falter through this unwanted, unavoidable season.
“…I will hold on to you”
This truth is so sweet. I don’t mean sweet in a cute, “awww” kind of way. This is a deeper sweetness, an ambrosial, utterly satisfying strength on which I can depend. The taste of that sweetness, the knowledge of that grip, gives me the courage to squeeze his hand a little tighter today as I walk forward and through, unsure of my destination, but certain I am not alone.
I hope that wherever you are on your path, whatever beasts you’re facing for the first time—or the thousandth time—some of that sweetness finds you today.
Be held. Grip tightly.