When Clinging is All You Have

The Italians say, “Togliendo il vento dalle nostre vele.” Translated, it means to take the wind out of our sails. Life has a way of doing that sometimes, doesn’t it? What about when we receive an unexpected diagnosis? Or when they outsource our job to automated, artificial machines that can’t make decisions but only execute the commands they’re programmed to perform? News like this can be a punch in the gut and leave us doubled over, gasping for air. This life is filled with moments that take the wind out of our sails from time to time.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines taking the wind out of someone’s sails as:

“to make someone feel less confident or less determined to do something, usually by
saying or doing something that they are not expecting”

Whether a fatal car crash or a terminal illness, when those gut punches happen, they can leave us reeling, with unsteady footing and sometimes overwhelming, raw emotions. Such is part of the human condition. Since the fall of man and sin entered humankind, our human emotions came to include negative emotions such as fear, dread, sorrow, and worry. Each of these, in their own way, tries to rob us of the joy we hold inside.

People react in different ways to events in their lives. Some wear our hearts on our sleeves. Others seem unflappable. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. While my life is not always in the middle, I try to control my emotions in duck-like fashion. I may appear calm atop the water, but underneath, I’m paddling like crazy to try to stay afloat.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus, who was a slave in Rome for much of his life, wrote, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” What a fitting reminder for Christians. When bad news comes or bad things happen, we will all respond. We are, after all, human beings; and like it or not, we all have flaws and imperfections in our character. I often view one’s initial reaction as exactly that—an initial, natural response to some input.

We might be shocked or subdued, disappointed or depressed, angry or annoyed. Whatever our initial response, I always look for what comes next. I believe this “next” shows someone’s true character. Do they regain their composure quickly and begin to rationally think about the situation? Do they reach deep inside themselves to find the peace of God that resides there?

There are times and circumstances when all we can do is cling to God and draw upon His strength, His promises, and His Word, written upon our hearts. Psalm 63:8 is a verse I hold onto when it feels like everything else has been swept away and angry seas are swirling beneath my feet—ready to overwhelm me.

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8, ESV)

In those moments, all I can do is cling to God. As He has proven over and over in my life, He is enough to see me through the storm. God promises to always be with me and protect me in every trial (Isaiah 43:2). So, what does it mean to “cling to God”? The Hebrew word (Strong’s 01692) is “dabaq” (pronounced daw-bak’) means “to stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, follow closely, pursue, join to.” The best way I know to do that is to cling to Christ. When I look at the word in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, I come away with a different view. One of someone desperately straining to grab hold of the fringe of Christ’s tunic as He passes by. To cling to Christ, we must endeavor with all we are to reach out to Him, even amid life’s trials.

When clinging to the cross is all you have, you’ll find that Christ is all you need. Share on X

The question I’ve often asked is, “How do I do that? How can I cling to Christ?” The short answer, grab onto the cross of Christ and hang on! When all else has failed me, Christ is my foundation. It is to Him that I must cling, through faith. For me, I reach deep inside my heart and the recesses of my mind to find His Word, hidden there for this time. I grab ahold of His promises to grab hold of me as I go through the trial. It is by unwavering faith that we cling to Christ.

The natural question is, “How do we get what we need and store it away before we even know we need it?” The answer I have found is letting God be God. As He works to sanctify us, He will guide us to what we’ll need for the journey ahead. First Peter 5:6-7 sums this up nicely.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due
time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)

These verses direct us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. In other words, we must sacrifice self by allowing God to shape and mold us; to make us into what He desires and not what we want. Allowing the Holy Spirit to spiritually grow and guide us, we’ll find that what we may not understand today is exactly what we’ll need in the future.

In clinging to Christ, we can live out the words of Matthew 6:34 as we rest in Him. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34, NKJV). In Christ’s words, concluding His “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus Christ tells us to place our trust in Him alone. He holds our tomorrows in His hand, for He alone knows what our tomorrows will bring.

Friends, I suspect many of you are facing trials that seem overwhelming. I pray each of you can muster the strength to grab onto Christ and cleave to Him as He helps you through the trial. If you don’t think you have the strength to reach out, let me know and I’ll come alongside you in prayer to encourage and exhort you. Stand fast in your faith, brothers and sisters. The storm clouds of this world are gathering. When clinging to the cross is all you have, you’ll find that Christ is all you need.

God’s blessings,


Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:00 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.


28 thoughts on “When Clinging is All You Have”

  1. “There are times and circumstances when all we can do is cling to God and draw upon His strength, His promises, and His Word, written upon our hearts.” JD, this was such an encouragement this morning. I am so grateful for God’s Word which brings the strength and encouragement each one of us needs. Praying for you and Ms. Diane this morning.

    1. Marjorie Hill

      Thanks for your encouragement and sharing from your heart. Lifting you and your bride up to our Precious Lord. Blessings.

  2. This past year has been one of the most challenging of my life. As I’ve clung to the cross, I’ve realized time and again, that when I have Jesus, I have all I need.


  3. Not a person in the world wouldn’t relate to this. We’ve all been there and many are there now, but you are so right. Finding the way to access our faith in Him and Him alone will get us through. It has never failed me my friend.

    1. Oh, AMEN, to all of the above. If the Lord is not our source of hope, we have no where to turn.
      We have recently experienced that gut punch in my extended family. Just last week a perceived healthy 28 year old man died in his sleep. No answers to the cause, so far. An autopsy is planned.
      There are no words to describe the horrible agony of his loved ones. Family, fiancée, and friends connot stop the tears from flowing.
      If you’re reading this, please lift then up on prayer. Thank you.

  4. Sylvia Schroeder

    Thank you JD. That was a profound encouragement to me today. Praying for you as you cling to the cross.

  5. J.D., your message resonated in my soul. I have been through these moments where I lost my breath and wondered how to take the next step. In the end, Jesus is all we have. But He is our Savior, Redeemer, and friend who sticks closer than a brother. May we cling to Him until our last breath.

  6. Thank you JD. I appreciate you explaining our initial reaction does not describe our character, but the fact we reevaluate the situation and cling to Jesus shows our character. This timely message minister to me .

  7. When we are clobbered by circumstances that knock the wind out of our sails, we can only be put to rights when we cling with all our might to the Rock of Jesus. How some people go through life without Him is beyond me, J. D. Danny and I have faced lots of windless days in this year so far. If not for our faith and trust in our loving God, we would not have made it to this point.
    Thanks, my friend, for your amazing inspirational words here today.

  8. Your words about negative emotions trying to rob us of joy cause me to think of John 10:10, which reads, “The thief comes to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” Praise the Lord. Thank you for pointing us to Jesus and reminding us He is all we need. May the Lord encourage and strengthen you this day and always. Prayers for you and Miss Diane.

  9. There is a reason Christ told us, ” Without me you can do nothing. ” We are helpless on our own. Abiding in Him is the only option we have if we want to conquer every problem and fear.

  10. Amen. There are times when life is so hard and the tears keep falling. I’m thankful to be a daughter of God and to know I can cling to Him in every moment. I may fuss and cry and shout out in anger when those trials come. But, I know I am loved by God and He will see me through. I pray I always remember to rejoice for His presence and sing songs of praise for His mercies. Thank you for this message of hope. 🙂

  11. Some of the times God has done the deepest work in my heart have been those times when everything else I leaned on has been taken away and all I had was Him. What sweetness to know He is enough.

  12. “Clinging to the Cross” is such a beautiful visual. God’s uses these moments in life to teach and remind us that His strength is made stronger in our weakness.

    Blessings and peace, my friend!

  13. Powerful and timely message, brother. I’m sorry you are under the scrutiny of discrimination for your faith and misinterpretation of your actions. I, too, was targeted by FB for several months for nothing I could determine as being against the standards. I was threatened numerous times and I attempted to fight back until I just quit. You might say I simply clinged to the cross. Nothing came of it but my heartache and frustration. Our message may be quieted to multitudes but it doesn’t change. Nor does it soften. Yes, we have feelings of anger and annoyance but the message perseveres. Be strong and take courage, my friend.

  14. Esther M Bandy

    Thank you so much for sharing this powerful message with us. I’m truly grateful for your message, and I know it will be a blessing to many others as well.

  15. So beautifully expressed, my friend. I think we’ve all been in that situation at some time in our lives–when all we had was our Lord Jesus to keep us from being overwhelmed by the storms of life. I know that I have and it was only my Savior that saved me from total despair. And I clung to Him with all my being. Thank you for sharing from your heart.

  16. J.D., I absolutely love how you point out that God is always at work, equipping us for what will come in the future. If we let Him be our God (Lord, authority) every day of our lives, we’ll be ready when the twists and turns of life come. God bless!

  17. Kathy Collard Miller

    I like thinking of “clinging” as the instruction of 2 Cor. 10:5: “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Every arrow of thought or feeling can be evaluated whether it is truth based on the Bible.
    Thanks you, JD!

  18. Once when I was in college (way long ago!) and going through a difficult time,a roommate said that sometimes all you can do is cling to the bedpost. That was the most solid thing she could think of! I wasn’t a Christian then, and I’m so thankful that now as a Christian, I can cling to Jesus, my rock and the most solid foundation I/we can ever have for all eternity!! Thanks so much for your helpful insights , J.D.

  19. Many times I’ve clung to the Lord and his promises. His hand was steady when all else around me was shaken. Over and over again, he’s proven that he is enough. Thank you for this, J.D.

  20. JD, I find it comforting to grab onto the cross of Christ and cling to it. Sometimes I think we just don’t realize this is what we need most. I like to say, “Cling to the only hope in the darkness, Jesus.”

  21. Yvonne Morgan

    I spent many times clinging to Christ because He had the only way to go. And I pray I will always cling to Him in my times of need. Thanks JD

  22. I’m so sorry, Brother. I somehow totally missed this strongly encouraging post last week. We had some medical things going on that, though not anything close to life-threatening, were very distracting for a few days and Mrs. Diane and I were completely off our normal schedules and routines for a few days. All is pretty well at this point, and I was looking for a post from you yesterday, because my J.D. weeks got flipped. I was just about to send you a text to let you know that we’re praying for you when I decided I’d check out your site just in case and ran into a wave of gratitude that I found your post and feeling ashamed of myself for letting things get in the way of reading your post, which is always one of the highlights of my week.
    I must also confess that when I saw the title and began to engage the subject, I wondered how much of it was autobiographically motivated. Diane and I know that the load on you increased dramatically when God decided to take Mr. John home and have prayed for added strength and increased resources for you. So I guess after thinking you had missed a posting cycle (which would be totally unlike you to do without acknowledging it) it was natural for me to worry about what you might be up against. All that to say that if you’re having to paddle even harder than usual to keep yourself afloat, we’re prayerfully stroking along with you.
    In any case, God bless you for the depth of wisdom and guidance you consolidated into this encouraging piece. Whatever unfolds in the rest of our day, and all that follow, the guidance you gave today will be a priceless help as we cling to Him in defiant joy and invincible hope.

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