After living almost 30 years in the Seattle area, I’ve become a bit of a regular at the Woodland Park Zoo. I grew up going there as a kid, my grandma regularly volunteers there, and now my kids enjoy visiting as well. Recently as I walked our out-of-town guests through the dirt paths of I saw an animal I have never seen there before—the mountain goat. It is not a new exhibit, the mountain goats just tend to hide away on the other side of their mountain.
However, that day we stood in slight awe as we watched a mama mountain goat take care of her new kid in plain sight. My girls and I marveled at the young baby, still learning to walk on the crooked edges of their cliffside mountain. Although the mama goat was taking care of her young well, the real caretaker was unseen that day. The zookeeper—invisible to those gazing at the goat—is the one who provided the needs for a secure life on the cliffside mountain. You also are much like the mountain goat. You walk through the good and bad of life, as God has you in the palm of His hand. He, like the zookeeper, is unseen as He cares for all our needs. It is in that regard, and in the fallen state of our world that we need to continually remind ourselves and others that He really is holding us, even if it feels like we’re falling from the cliffside.
What Does It Mean That God Has You in the Palm of His Hand?
The Bible talks about God holding us in His hands throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is a language used to convey that we are held securely by the grip of God’s grace. In Psalm 139:10, David describes that God will always be present to lead and hold us. Isaiah 49:16 says that we have been “engraved on the palm of his hands”—never forgetting us or leaving us. In John 10:27-30, Jesus uses the language of sheep, to describe God’s grip on us.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Jesus is the good shepherd, and we are His sheep. As sheep who follow the good shepherd, no one is able to snatch us from the Father’s hand. Whether we are rejoicing in the good or crying out in the difficult—the good Shepherd, Jesus, is leading us towards His grace and glory. Circumstance, sin, Satan, and even death can’t separate us from His love and care (Romans 8:31-39). It is through belief in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that we are offered the unwarranted kindness of His caring hand and eternal security in following Him.
In John 10:11 Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd, echoing King David, in Psalm 23. As we read Psalm 23, in light of John 10:27-30 we gain a fuller picture of what it means to be held securely in the palm of God’s hand. Sally Loyd Jones, in her children’s book Found, describes the grip of God’s grace in Psalm 23 this way:
“God is my Shepherd and I am His little lamb.
He feeds me.
He guides me.
He looks after me.
I have everything I need.
Inside my heart is very quiet. As quiet as lying still in soft green grass, in a meadow by a little stream.
Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places…
I won’t be afraid. Because my Shepherd knows where I am.
He is here with me.
He keeps me safe.
He rescues me.
He makes me strong and brave.
He is getting wonderful things ready for me. Especially for me.
Everything I ever dreamed of!
He fills my heart so full of happiness, I can’t hold it all inside.
Wherever I go I know
God’s never stopping
Never giving up
Always and forever love will go too!”
Believing that we are held in the palm of God’s hand means we trust that God is sovereignly leading us into holiness and towards our good and His glory. The key here is remembering this no matter what life throws at us. As we put our faith in Jesus as the good shepherd, let us consider 4 ways to remember that God is holding us in the palm of His hand.
1. Immerse rather than remind. There is no doubt that life will get difficult at some point. We live in a fallen world that is in hourly need of God’s glorious salvation and restoration. Even on the good days, we need the humility to know that God is holding us in the palm of His hand. Therefore, rather than reminding ourselves that we are held in the grip of His grace when life gets weary, we would be better off immersing ourselves in this truth daily. This means we daily sit under the Word of God—resting in promises like Psalm 23, Romans 8, John 10, and Ephesians 1:11. We look to biblical teachers who seek to impress the grace of the gospel upon our souls, and we memorize scripture that points us back to the sovereignty of God. If you’re unsure of where to start as you seek to immerse yourself in the promise that God holds you, consider this resource from Crossway.
2. Sing. The power of the song is incredible. I don’t know about you, but I can still recite almost every song I endlessly listened to in middle school. 10 years can pass by, the tune will randomly be playing in the mall, and the lyrics still come back to me. The song naturally recalls—therefore, we should utilize the simple tool of the song in order to help remind us that God has us in the palm of His hand. Listening to hymns and contemporary Christian music at home, in the car, while exercising, and while working pulls our heart into worship and reminds our souls of the promises laid out for us in scripture. Even the children’s worship song “He’s got the whole world in His hands” can help call us to deeper faith when our hearts need a reset from the good Shepherd.
3. Look for the evidence of His grace. God’s grace is displayed around us every day. The sweet taste of chocolate, the smell of fresh air, the ability to read and learn, the beauty of a sunset, all are evidence that He is holding us despite the individual circumstances we are facing. When grief strikes and hope is dim, remind yourself that God has you by looking and praying for evidence of His grace. Search for His unwarranted kindness in the ways He is leading you. Even if the good Shepherd is leading you through a dark, scary, lonely place, He’s still there with you. Ask Him to show you where and praise Him for the evidence of His grip of grace.
4. Surround yourself with the community. God did not create us to live our lives alone. He is a communal God, who desires us to be in community with Himself and others. This means the reminding doesn’t always have to come from ourselves. Instead, dive into a local Bible-believing church body and build relationships with people who seek to love God and love others. Initiate friendships, be bold to be the first to invite someone over, reach out when you need help, and allow the body of Christ to point you to the God that holds you securely in the palm of His hand. Be vulnerable, ask for prayer and pray for others, and make a habit of pointing others to the good news of the gospel, as you allow your church body to do the same.
God never intended us to remain isolated—He desires each of us to proclaim the good news of the Shepherd who fills our heart so full of happiness, that we can’t hold it all inside. His never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love is the secure grip of grace that changes everything. God has you in the palm of his hand and will never let go.
Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, church planter’s wife, mama, and lover of all things coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy to make) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring gospel application to life. You can read more of what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.