Faithfulness and Persistence

To the sick and suffering who have been in the same difficult situation for so long a time, these, faith and persistence, could become so shabby, lackluster, that one needs to wipe the dusty surface to have a glimpse of them once again. This could happen when, for years one prays for miraculous healing and it doesn’t come, and instead, there could be more suffering. This doesn’t mean that faithfulness in God is gone for good. No. It’s just that, one’s fervency for that petition so sought for could diminish. Maybe one would still continue praying for it but the “faith that could move mountains” has waned. Importunity (persistence) is also gone.

My painting from last year. I hope you like it.

My painting from last year. I hope you like it.

That is, until one finds oneself in a harder place where there is no other thing to do but find one’s way back to them – faith and persistence – dust them up, polish and let them shine once more. Let them do their work once more.

For you see, even hope could grow faint and wax weak. One could lose one’s tight grip on it and when that happens, one finds oneself despairing once again. To lose hope and courage – it’s scary. But if we revive our faithfulness to God and our persistence in seeking Him and presenting our supplications to Him, there could still be a remnant of strength left in one’s spirit. And with that, hope. For these, faithfulness and hope, they fortify each other. And prayer in faith is the fuel upon which persistence operates.

As I have said, they could become lackluster, especially when, after a very long time of holding onto them, one still has not received answer to a very important prayer. One is still sick and suffering terribly perhaps. But if the going gets tougher and tougher, one knows that these – faith in God and persistence (importunity) – are the only things one can hold onto, that can bring one from this day to the next. That can rekindle hope.

And so, instead of entertaining the budding feelings of discouragement, self-pity, and despair inside (or the temptation to sulk against God), I am brushing up my strong faith in Him and pursuing Him with persistent determination once again.

I am praying this:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:10-11)

I confess, feelings of hopelessness and despair sometimes creep into my heart, but I never – NEVER – let them flourish. However hard sickness and suffering is, I can’t afford to do that. I am a mother. I guess that says it all.

By God’s persistent grace, He revives us every now and then. This is more significant when one finds oneself in the lions’ den or in the fiery furnace heated up seven times than usual.

Do we still have Daniels and Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos abiding deep within us?

Do we still have that faith to face the hungry lions once again and believe – BELIEVE and TRUST – that God will send His angel once again to stop their mouths from devouring us?

Do we still have that faith that the Lord Jesus Christ will walk with us in the midst of the fire and we will walk out of the furnace without being burned?

Why are lions’s dens and fiery furnaces not shut down for good, like closed down factories which churn out obsolete products?

But we know that they will always be around until kingdom come. But the Word of God will remain. THE. WORD. OF. GOD. WILL. REMAIN!

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Lord Jesus said,

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Mat. 24:35)

And what does His Word say? It is only this:

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior… (Is. 43:1-3)

These are so beautiful promises, but again, I confess: In the thick of sickness and suffering, one may feel like drowning in the deep waters instead of walking on them. One may feel like being melted through the fire.

It is during these times that our faith must not fail. Even for this, we need to ask the Lord Jesus’ help and intercession, remembering His assurance to Apostle Peter as also His assurance to us: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (see Luke 22:32).

In Luke 11 (KJV Bible), the Lord Jesus tells of a story between two friends and how importunity of the one got him what he wanted from the other. The story was a preface to what the Lord really wanted to say: for us to ask, seek, knock.

To be importunate is to be “overly persistent in request or demand”¹. In the story of the two friends, the one being asked didn’t want to be bothered for he and his family were already abed, but because he was his friend and because of his importunity, he rose and gave what his friend needed.

The Lord Jesus is saying that it is the same with our relationship with Him: we are His friends and He encourages us to importune Him, to ask and beg Him urgently, persistently, even troublesomely.

Sometimes we grow weary, yes, but the Holy Spirit leads us back to God’s Word over and over again and to believe and trust in its mighty power to do that which He intended it for.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:10-11, emphasis added)

He will send His word and heal (Ps. 107:20). Amen.

¹ Merriam-Webster

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In the Potter’s Hands

Meditating on Psalm 138.

I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
2 I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul. (vv. 1-3)

Just when I felt I was writing about the things of God mechanically, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart: Don’t just write words, write for other people’s edification, your own growth, and all for my glory. Don’t just write with your heart of your everyday life, write about My truth with renewed zeal. This is how you can appreciate the gift I gave to you. How you use and whet it really matter to Me. 

I am amazed once again at how the Lord speaks to us when we least expect it. When we feel like there’s something paining us or weighing down on us but we just can’t put our finger on it. He then speaks. He shines His light upon us and guides us. Sometimes, we cannot know it as it comes. But later on, it settles in our souls perfectly. That’s when we know it was His voice speaking to us.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me…

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (vv. 7, 8)

We should not be troubled then when we feel like we don’t know how to proceed, or when we are not sure if we are even doing things right. He will speak; He will guide. How awesome is His faithfulness!

One night last week as I waited for sleep to come, the Holy Spirit spoke in my heart. It was regarding my daughter Hannah. The Lord reminded me to talk to her about her spiritual growth or lack of it. He let me know that she has not been communing with Him as she ought. As I fully succumbed to sleep, I purposed to talk to her the next morning.

After my morning devotion, I called for her. I talked to her heart-to-heart as usual. I told her about the Lord’s reminder. I also told her the truth that God longs for the love of His children just as much as we long and hunger for Him. We hunger for His love, healing, and His answers to our earnest prayers, but He also longs for us to spend time in His presence. I told Hannah about the Lord’s words on the cross. I thirst. He doesn’t thirst for water. He thirsts for our faithful love.

With intensity in my words and tears welling in my eyes, I reminded her that the Lord knows us by name and He calls us by them. I then proceeded to tell the story of Mary Magdalene, how that the Lord called her name when she was fussing about the body of her Lord being taken away. He simply said, “Mary.” When He wants to call our attention or stop us from doing the things we ought not, He calls out —“Hannah.”

Hannah was intently listening the whole time. We felt the love and presence of the Lord. “The Lord will perfect that which concerns [us].” He will not forsake the work of His hands. Are you a mother needing counselling on how to handle problems in the home? A harried wife and mother perhaps who feels she falls short of the Lord’s expectations of her? Rest in the Lord, dear one. We are surely handled by the deft hands of the Potter. He is the One who expertly moves and molds us as we yield ourselves to Him.

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Journey with Jesus,