Remaining Faithful Through Despair
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word “faithful” as steadfast in affection or allegiance. A few synonyms to faithful are:
Faithfulness is a necessary quality to have in any relationship (employee/employer, friendship, romantic, etc.). In the context of marriage, being faithful is critical for the sustainability of that marriage. When a person is unfaithful, that dismantles trust. Without trust, there can be no true intimacy.
The same is true for us as it relates to our relationship with God. To fortify our relationship with God and have true intimacy with Him, we must remain faithful and not leave Him. Being faithful to God starts in our hearts. The way we remain in Him is by being dependent on His Word, reliant on His truth, and loyal to Him in our faith.
In scripture Psalms 12, David starts the verse praying to God about the disappearance of the faithful. He states, “Help, Lord, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race.”
David felt alone, how we can feel sometimes while on our Christian journey, wondering are there any “real Christians” left. However, before we go searching for other “real” Christians, let’s first look at ourselves, at our own hearts, to test our faithfulness towards God. We can think we are all good, but we must filter every action, situation, or experience with God’s truth.
Here are some practical scenarios that can tempt someone to give up on God:
- An unexpected death (parent, child or loved one) resulting in depression
- Loss of a job causing worry and stress
- Ending of a friendship, relationship or marriage that can stir up bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and resentment
If we can be real for a moment, let’s take the scenarios a step further:
- Engaging with a rude co-worker or boss leading to pride, arrogance, and a mean spirit
- Being cut off on the freeway resulting in anger, rage, or resentfulness
- Disagreement with a sibling, friend, or spouse causing pride, anger, bitterness, or forgiveness
Have you ever experienced any of these scenarios? What was your response? Did you remain faithful or did you leave God? Remember we have already left God when the motives in our hearts, our attitudes, and emotions are not in allegiance with God truth. This is why it is important to guard our hearts at all times (Proverbs 4:23) and not be lured away by our own lust (James 1:14-15).
Now by no means am I saying that you should not have any emotion when life happens, but we must always overcome everything with truth. The scripture James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature to complete, not lacking in anything.” As children of God, we do not lack anything. God has equipped us with everything we need. We can handle any situation life throws us through the gifting of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Let us look at those scenarios again and see how we can respond God’s way:
- An unexpected death (parent, child or loved one) – allow the Spirit of patience to guide you and lean on God’s love during this time of grief and loss.
- Loss of a job- allow the Spirit of faith to trust God’s provision.
- Ending of a friendship, relationship or marriage- allow the spirit of love and kindness guide how interactions with this person.
- Engaging with a rude co-worker or boss – allow kindness, goodness, and love to guide how you will respond with this co-worker
- Cut off on the freeway-allow the spirit of self-control to guide your words and actions
- Having a disagreement with a sibling, friend or spouse –allow the spirit of love and wisdom to guide your conversation and resolve the situation.
This is how we should respond to life’s challenges. Things may not always go our way, but what we do not want to have is a deceitful heart. In the Bible, David continues his prayer about how the unfaithful respond; “Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart, they speak” [Psalms 12:2]. When we respond against the Word of God, the only person we are fooling is ourselves. Remember, we remain in God when our motives, attitudes, and emotions are in alignment with God’s truth.