How to Cling to Hope When You’re Hanging by a Thread

My hope was to lighten up the blog this week with a funny post about my struggles with aging and the lessons I’ve learned from wrinkles and grey hair, but we’ll have to save that one for later. Based on the overwhelming number of urgent prayer requests in my inbox the past few days, I sensed the Spirit nudging me to go in a different direction.

But I got to thinking about those wrinkles and grey hair; they’re a road map of our journeys. They tell our stories, if only someone would take the time to listen. I’ve listened to some heart-breaking stories recently. Your stories. 

Many of you are traveling a path you never thought you’d have to take: marital problems, a friend’s suicide, estrangement from a child, surgery and a long recuperation, the trauma of debilitating panic attacks. 

Holly Hunter expressed it well in the 1989 movie, Alwayswhen she drawled, “Life is fragile.”

Some would say it’s precarious. It’s a fascinating word. 

Synonyms for the word precarious:

  • Hanging by a thread
  • On thin ice
  • Out on a limb
  • Touch and go

  • Dangerous
  • Dicey
  • Dubious

  • Shaky
  • Slippery

  • Uncertain
  • Unsafe
  • Unreliable
  • Unsettled
  • Unstable
  • Unsure

Honestly, that’s kinda’ how I feel writing this post: out on a limb as I attempt to address the pain of others, dubious that I can do the subject justice, uncertain of the outcome.


I stop and pray again, and know I need to dig a little deeper. An etymology study of the word precarious is eye opening. There is more to this word than I thought.

“No word is more unskillfully used than this. It is used for uncertain in all its senses; but it only means uncertain, as dependent on others” [Johnson].

It’s a legal word meaning, “held through the favor of another,” from the Latin word precarious “obtained by asking or praying.”

The notion of “dependent on the will of another” led to the current sense of “risky, dangerous, uncertain.”

Depending on others is risky business

It feels risky to depend on someone else; what if they screw up, what if they let us down, what if they’re not trustworthy?

I once read that if you want to know what God is doing in your life, observe what the enemy is attempting; God is always doing the opposite.

The enemy shouts, “You’re in danger!” God whispers, “You’re safe.”

Satan taunts, “You’re sinking!” God says, “I’ve got you.”

The devil jeers, “There’s no security!” God reassures us, “You can depend on me.”

Depending on the will of another is only scary if you depend on the wrong person.

Precarious situations are where we encounter Jesus.

Most of you know of the precarious situation my husband Roger faced in the fall of 2016. But you might not know the backstory.

During the last two weeks of September, I started to find feathers on my daily walk. It started with two feathers the first day, then a few more the next day.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge

One day I brought home seven feathers! I told the Lord, “Either the birds are in big trouble or you’re trying to tell me something!”

Of course, I immediately thought of Psalm 91:4:

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

On Sept. 30 Roger had a massive pulmonary embolism that resulted in cardiac arrest; he flat lined for 26 minutes. The following day he had a bleed and almost died again. Talk about precarious.

The Dr. said, “If he lives, he’ll probably have brain damage.”

But God said, “If you’ll pray…”

Of course we prayed, but not just any prayer. We prayed promises from His Word and they became our armor and protection. God held my husband and our whole family under the shelter of his wings.

Roger did NOT die, but lives and tells of the works of the Lord! The Dr.’s call him a miracle.

Looking back, I realize that for two full weeks prior to this crisis God was preparing me for what was ahead. Those feathers were His way of saying, “Trust me.”

Who do you trust?

Verse 2 of Psalm 91 says, I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

  • Refuge means “a place of hope.”
  • Fortress means “a net.”
  • Trust means, “to set one’s hope and confidence upon anyone.”

You can turn this into a declaration:

“Lord, you are my place of hope, a net to catch me; I place my hope and confidence in you alone.”

The word HOPE literally means a ROPE or CORD.

What would you rather do?

Hang by a thread or cling to the rope of hope?

Our choices matter.

God is challenging me and I challenge you today with this question:

How do we respond when we face what the world calls a precarious situation?

Do we:

  • Wring our hands or lift them?
  • Look about anxiously or anticipate His help?
  • Speak words of death or words of life?

Years ago I wrote a song with these lyrics:

When my heart is faint, when the lights grow dim, when the road is rocky

I choose Him

When the load is heavy, when my prospects are slim, when I’m feeling anxious

I choose Him

I choose joy, I choose happiness, I choose trust, I choose HOPE

Here’s the thing, though; I didn’t feel joyful, I wasn’t happy, I struggled to trust and I was barely clinging to hope.

But I chose to praise in a precarious place.

I eventually wrote a bridge for that song:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His son

That none should perish, not even one

And on the days I find myself

At the end of my rope

His love gives me HOPE

Hope is a rope friends. Cling to it

Hope is a rope, cling to it

Father, things feels precarious, but I don’t want to live by my feelings, I want to live by faith. Things may feel shaky but you are my rock. You keep me safe, you command the angels to place a net under me; you hedge me about with thorns so the enemy can’t reach me. Thank you for being my refuge. You are my hope and I will cling to you.


Hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, Please share.

4 thoughts on “How to Cling to Hope When You’re Hanging by a Thread

  • September 6, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Good good words here. Yes my life has felt precarious this last year,. Our son’s heartbreaking situation has looked like a giant black hammer poised over our heads, any minute ready to pound out any breath of hope..but hope is surviving. Hope IS a rope. I do like your word amplifications. Word origins and meanings tell a bigger and better story. Love you ❤️

    • September 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      They sure help me to dig deeper! Clinging to the rope of hope! Love you too, Hazel!

  • September 7, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Such. Beautiful words of encouragement to define HOPE.

    • September 7, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      You’re the best encourager, Jean! Love you and thank you for all your support!


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