God Will Sustain You a Day at a Time
(Article by Vaneetha Rendall Risner)
Earlier this year, my arms completely gave out as I was getting ready.
I couldn’t even get dressed by myself. I was exhausted, and it wasn’t even nine in the morning. I suffer from post-polio syndrome, and I’m never sure when some new pain is a daily setback or the new normal. I didn’t want to go on like this. What was this day going to hold?
I cried out to the Lord, telling him that all of this felt colossally unfair. I ended by declaring, “I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. I just can’t do it!” I felt frustrated and angry and overwhelmed all at the same time. I realize that may sound deeply unspiritual, but that’s how I felt. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life with those physical struggles.
In the Quiet
After my lament, I was quiet. I had said all I wanted to say. And then I waited. I’m not sure if I was expecting a response from God, but I knew I needed to be still and listen.
“I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today.”
In the silence, the following words came to my mind: “I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today.” It felt like God was speaking to me.
Immediately, an unmistakable sense of peace settled over me. My situation was unchanged, but I felt strangely different. Today was a finite period that I could focus on. Today seemed doable. Today was much less frightening than “the rest of my life.” Coping with anything today seemed possible. Possible, that is, with God.
After that flood of relief had washed over me, I thought of those words again: “I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today.” Could they have been the words of God to me? Were they consistent with God’s character? What does Scripture say about the words that came to me?
I remembered that Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God will meet our needs today. His grace is available for today. We are not to be anxious about the future, or even tomorrow, for every day has its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).
The future is in God’s hands. Tomorrow morning may bring joy and even a miracle (Psalm 30:5), for his mercies are new every morning and nothing is impossible with God (Lamentations 3:22–23; Luke 1:37).
The widow of Zarephath’s oil and flour were miraculously available as long as she needed them (1 Kings 17:14–16). After Hezekiah prayed, 185,000 Assyrians were killed by the angel of the Lord without Israel even going to battle (2 Kings 19:35). Gideon defeated the vast army of the Midianites with only three hundred men (Judges 7:1–25). Humanly speaking, none of them saw a way out of the situation. And often we don’t either. But with God all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).
God reassured me that I didn’t need to despair over the future. But he wasn’t assuring me that my circumstances would change if I trusted him. He was calling me to endure today and trust him for tomorrow.
Rejoice, Pray, Thank
But today. How will I manage today? I wondered. Today still loomed before me with all its difficulties.
“He wasn’t assuring me that my circumstances would change. He was asking me to endure today and trust him for tomorrow.”
I was reminded that God’s grace is sufficient for me. That his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). That I needed to wait for him, and that he would strengthen me and would supply all my needs (Isaiah 40:30–31; Philippians 4:19). He “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). If I would draw near to him, then he would draw near to me (James 4:8).
And as I went through my day, I needed to rejoice in what God was doing, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks even in difficult circumstances, knowing all of this was God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
Breath by Breath
Rejoicing in trials is not easy for me. I have to deliberately focus on what God is doing in the midst of them. I must remind myself that although my trials seem heavy and endless, they are light and momentary in relation to eternity. And they are preparing for me a weight of glory that is beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).
When my struggles feel relentless, they force me to trust God day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath. Pain, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, has a way of capturing my attention. I can either focus that attention on myself and sink into despair, or I can direct my thoughts to Jesus and ask him for grace.
That moment-by-moment dialogue with God changes me. I see his sufficiency and his glory in ways that I would never have seen otherwise (2 Corinthians 3:18). Suffering has a unique way of putting me in God’s presence, beholding his glory, because I am constantly crying out to him.
Afflicted, Not Crushed
How did my day end up? Honestly, it was hard. My husband, Joel, helped me get dressed. I had enough energy to drive my modified minivan to massage therapy, which I desperately needed. The therapist was waiting at the door to walk me in — something she’d never done before. Immediately, I saw how God was providing for me.
“Some days he will do far more abundantly than all I can ask or imagine. And other days, he will sustain me in the storm.”
Back at home, Joel got me everything I needed. But things did not go the way I would have chosen. I had trouble concentrating. I was in intermittent pain. I felt frustrated at my weakness.
All I could do was cry out to God. And do the next thing. I understood more clearly what it meant to be “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; . . . struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). Although the day was hard, God ensured it would not crush me.
My pain and strength ebb and flow daily, so I often don’t know what to expect until I get out of bed. This reality has been true of emotional pain as well. But even when the day holds suffering, I am comforted to know that God is not calling me to live with this pain and weakness for the rest of my life. He is just calling me to live with it today. Some days he will do far more abundantly than all I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). And other days, he will sustain me in the storm.
But every day, he will provide all that I need.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer. She blogs at danceintherain.com, although she doesn’t like rain and has no sense of rhythm. Vaneetha is married to Joel and has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. She and Joel live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Vaneetha is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering.