“… who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?” (Psalm 89:8 ESV, emphasis mine)
All too often, we think of faithfulness as weakness.
Someone stays in a dead-end job or abusive relationship because they think it’s all they’ve got, or they’re afraid of what may happen if they leave.
In other words, faithfulness becomes a euphemism for resignation. We think we have no other options.
Alternatively, we may think that perhaps we do have other options, but they’re even worse than our present position. “Better the devil you know …”
What about the other side of the spectrum, the people who do have power and have “made it” to the top of their professions or industries?
Celebrities, corporate giants, big-name politicians, etc. … it’s not every day that you see one of them in a 50-year marriage. Many of them are usually faithless, not faithful, in their relationships.
God’s definition of faithfulness
What struck me about Psalm 89:8 is how it directly relates God’s faithfulness to his strength.
He is mighty and faithful. He doesn’t have to stick with us, to be faithful to us, and yet he is!
He has all the options in the world. He could destroy us, “alter” us without our consent, choose something or someone else over us, or just leave us alone. And we really couldn’t do a thing about it.
What happens when we, as God’s people, choose to be faithful in spite of everything the world throws at us?
- It could be faithfulness to God in the midst of persecution.
Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world today, according to The Pew Research Center. Friends, I can’t imagine how I’d live under the kind of persecution that many of my brothers and sisters are enduring. Every time I go to church, it’s not with the thought that I could be killed, imprisoned or beaten just for attending services.
Nonprofits like Open Doors are doing amazing things on behalf of those being persecuted, and if this is something that God is placing on your heart, I strongly recommend getting involved with them or other agencies who are helping these faithful ones … where faithfulness can mean the difference between life and death.
- It could be faithfulness to our family and friends.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20, ESV)
So often I think, “I really love you, God, but I can’t stand ______ (fill in the blank)!” It could be relating to that work colleague who I caught gossiping about me, or another person in authority who used her power to bulldoze anyone with even the smallest objection to her decisions. It could be trying to forgive a greedy businessman who did terrible things to my family.
How can I look at these people and think, “That’s my brother!” or “That’s my sister!” and just start feeling the love?
The honest answer is, I can’t. I just have to trust that God will give me the love for them, because I sure can’t come up with it on my own.
There’s so many things about God that I can’t explain and don’t understand. One of them is that somehow, he has set up the universe in such a way that we are to love the people we can see. And in doing so, we demonstrate our love toward God, the unseen.
- Perhaps most importantly, it could be faithfulness to our spouse.
As another anniversary approaches, I’ve been taking time to re-evaluate our multicultural marriage.
Yes, ours is still a young love compared to couples who have been married for decades. But we’ve been married for enough years now that it no longer feels like the “honeymoon” period. Too much of life has intervened for that!
We’ve seen good times and bad times. We’ve faced triumphs and trials. We’ve laughed and cried, said too little and then too much, taken two steps forward and sometimes four steps back.
(Sometimes going backward has been the most helpful thing we’ve done. As C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”)
But looking back, I am grateful for this … we did all of it together.
Somehow, in God’s economy, our faithfulness is a mark of strength. It is powerful. I believe it causes demonic forces to tremble and divine beings to rejoice.
My prayer for this year, and all the years I have left by God’s grace, is that I be found faithful … as an ongoing testimony to the mighty, faithful love of my Father.