Sometimes the world overwhelms me. Sometimes waves of anxiety sweep over me. At those moments, dread seems to take over my life, and all I would see would be the dark shadows looming.
This kind of feeling can rise out of various facets of life; be it from stress at work, anxiety in school, insecurities stemming from interpersonal issues, or even confusion/doubts about church. And in my attempt to piece everything together, I find my thoughts in a whirlwind, shredded into bits and pieces, flying here and there, unfocused and flustered – the space of my mind left ransacked in the aftermath of a brutal tornado.
So amidst all the chaos and confusion, I asked God to grant me a quiet heart and to teach me how to maintain it despite the external circumstances. And bit by bit, I began to understand and appreciate more what having a steadfast heart means.
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov 4:23)
From the Bible, there’s one thing that pops into my mind when I think of the word “steadfast”, and that is God’s love. It’s like that hymn quoting from Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV): “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning, new every morning; Great is your faithfulness, O Lord, great is your faithfulness.”
God’s love is steadfast because it is unchanging, unfailing, and everlasting. Despite what happens or what we do, His love for us never changes or ceases. In all types of situations, we can count on His love to be there. His love for us is firmly established, and nothing can move or separate us from it (Rom 8:38-39).
At the same time we receive such great steadfast love, we are also reminded from the Bible the steadfastness that is expected from us: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 51:10), “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise” (Ps 57:7), “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Ps 112:7), and “Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart…does well” (1 Cor 7:37).
It is an eye-opening comparison which reveals how we are supposed to reciprocate God’s steadfastness. This means that, even in our more difficult or overwhelmed times, we should still keep the same kind of love and faith to God as in our closest moments with Him. This means that, in all situations of stress and anxiety, we should be counted faithful in trusting Him completely, knowing that God does not change. No matter how ferocious and threatening the waves seem, God is our anchor, and by trusting Him without wavering, we are steadfast.
Being steadfast does not mean resolving to do right immediately after an inspiring seminar, then returning to our old selves and forgetting what He has taught us. Being steadfast does not mean being zealous for Him or serving Him on a whim, then putting Him off with excuses when laziness or other things in life hit. Being steadfast does not mean loving God so intensely this one moment, then ignoring Him and neglecting cultivation the next.
I myself am guilty of not being steadfast. But I asked the Lord for help.
He reminded me gently: “Yes, it’s hard, but just like the many other difficult things in your life in the past, we will get through it together – it will pass. Hold on to the good and blessings that are in your life; the small comforts and countless prayers I have answered. And think of Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burdens onto Me, I will sustain you, I will not allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Each day as I read God’s words, take in sermons, or reflect upon sharings with brothers and sisters in Christ, I feel steadied. As James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” So when we allow God’s words to cleanse and purify our hearts of the worries of this world, we can regain the quietness of our hearts, focus, and settle down our souls. By truly meditating on His words each day and keeping Him in our minds continuously throughout the day, we can find Him right beside us, calming down the storms of life.