Last time, I considered the quietly heroic nature of simply “Going on Through the Troubles” –the power of perseverance or steadfastness in faith.
Of course, the next question that arises is “How?” How do I nourish a faith that will endure when life is just a mess? Or maybe another way to ask the question is: what are the qualities of a steadfast faith? Again, I think James is very helpful…
+ A steadfast faith is very aware of its limitations and dependence. “If any of you lacks wisdom….” (1:5) Have you ever had a moment where you didn’t have a clue what to do? My tendency is to think longer, pedal faster and work harder. That usually results in anxiety and no real change.
But child-like trust in my Abba, my heavenly Father, means that I begin my days by simply admitting what He already knows: I can’t understand this, can’t do it or handle it or understand it or fix it or change it. I need Jesus. Apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Steadfast faith focuses on my needy ignorance and God’s gracious generosity.
+ A steadfast faith is not fogged by life circumstances, but looks with gratitude to God. Remember the transitory nature of life on earth. It is like grass that withers or flowers that fall. (1:9-11) None of it holds; it’s always changing. So, “don’t be deceived. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…with whom there is no…shadow due to change.” (1:16-17)
Steadfast faith looks beyond what is here and now, to delight in the God who is beyond it all.
+ A steadfast faith pursues holiness by battling temptation. Since “whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14:23), whatever is sin is not of faith. Sin is not to be trifled with; we are to pay close attention and gauge even the direction of our desires. Whether what we’re longing for is tracking towards God or away from it.
There is only one way to deal with unholy desires: we overwhelm them by the power of the gospel of Jesus. We linger long at the cross – every day—and meditate on Jesus’ love, His sacrifice for sin, His forgiveness, His grace and our release from condemnation.
In other words, steadfast faith is gospel-saturated.
+ A steadfast faith is born out of the word of truth. We don’t have to face the pressure of creating and maintaining our own lives. Keeping up some image of all-togetherness, convincing ourselves we’re really spiritual and working harder to fake everybody else out.
Steadfast faith trusts the word of God to nourish that faith by feeding on it every day, for “faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)
Steadfast, persevering faith needs to mark us more often than we realize. How? When life is a mess…
— we confess our desperate need,
— we look beyond our immediate circumstances to a good God,
— we meditate long on the gospel,
— we feed on God’s Word…
and just take one more step.