My granddaughter has just discovered the sustaining pedal on the piano. Often called the ‘loud pedal’, it ‘sustains’ all the damped strings on the piano by moving all the dampers away from the strings and allowing them to vibrate freely, creating a richer, more connected sound.
To sustain means to support or to help, and is a word rich in meaning. Psalm 54:4 (written during a difficult time when David was on the run from Saul and his every movement was being reported back to Saul by enemies) says, ‘Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.’ When we face difficult circumstances (illness, bereavement, financial hardship, relationship problems, awkward work situations or anything else), we can know God’s help. He comforts, lifts up, carries us. Ps 41:3 promises God ‘sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.’ Isaiah 46:4 promises God will sustain us ‘even to your old age and grey hairs’, saying ‘I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and will rescue you.’
The promise of being sustained is one that brings hope to a weary heart (Isaiah 50:4). We are sustained according to God’s promise (Ps 119:116) and are reassured that God not only sustains us but sustains all things by His powerful word. (Heb 1:3)
What do we have to do to be sustained? Ps147:6 says, ‘the Lord sustains the humble’ and Ps 55:22 says, ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.’ Humility and dependence on God are all that are required. Ps 3:5 pains a picture of the peace that then comes: ‘I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.’
May our lives be sustained by the Lord so that the music we then sing has the resonance of joy and peace.