Steadfast Obedience Endures

I landed in the ER on a Sunday after several days of pain with my back. The X-rays showed some extensive issues with my spine that will need to be addressed as soon as possible. A few days later, I visited the urgent care clinic for additional symptoms which led to a diagnosis of shingles. Evidently, R.A. and the meds I take for autoimmune diseases make me more susceptible to shingles. The virus often settles in nerve “roots” that extend out from the spine and a weakened immune system is one of the main triggers for a shingles outbreak. Just as I’ve come out of a hard season it seems I’ve been hit again.

I trust that He knitted me together in my mother’s womb, and he fully intended I have this particular physical body that suffers the effects of a fallen world (Ps 139:13-14). God’s ways are higher than ours and because he has allowed this, I trust there is purpose. I soak in his Word and his steadfast love. I trust that He is the lover of my soul. While living out these unpredictable days and sleepless nights, I meditate on God’s character. He is who He says he is. He is eternally steadfast and He calls his followers to mirror that character in their walk. He calls me to an enduring walk with the Lord, wholly committed.

Steadfastness is a character trait that is much needed among those who follow Jesus today. Steadfastness is defined as being “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.” When we turn to the scriptures, the Psalmist makes a petition that we also need to make. Let’s look closer at what David has to say in Ps. 119:

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! - Ps 119:5. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. - Ps 119:15–16.

In making his words more personal, we can state a present tense petition to God, “Oh, that my ways are steadfast.” There is no wavering with our God. We all do well to plea for God’s help in this because in our own strength, during times of trouble, we cannot do this. We do well to turn to His Word and the prayers of his people to sustain us and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are able to receive help and endure.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. - Jn 14:15. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. - Jn 14:21

At some point, we all face adversity. It is my desire to honor God in all seasons of life by remaining prayerful in all matters, faithful in my example to others, and obedient to the teachings of scripture. If you truly love God you will keep his commandments, but it comes down to a heart issue. Our obedience reflects our love for Jesus. How much do you love the Lord? How willing are you to be obedient regardless of life’s circumstances? Needing to trust in Christ, and then choosing to do so, results in Him making a home deeper in my heart. My trust allows my soul to continuously grow in the presence of God’s love for me.

In times like today, I know God is teaching me, shaping me, molding me. Jeremiah 17 is a hallmark passage for biblical counseling. The reason we often teach this passage is because it highlights what is fundamentally wrong with our hearts: we were made to trust God, but innately we choose to trust in our own flesh instead. 

Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” - Je 17:5-8

How well do you know the God of the scriptures? Where do you draw your strength during the hard days? Trials and suffering are inevitable, even for believers. They will come. But those who draw their sustenance from the Lord will not only survive, they will flourish like a tree planted by water. Even when the drought and heat come, the tree planted by water does not fear and does not grow anxious. God Himself is the living water for the tree. We need water to live.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” - Jn 4:10-14

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