On a morning run last summer, after a major thunderstorm swept through, the path was sprinkled with leaves and branches scattered from the intense winds. As I passed by homes, I did a double take when a thick poplar lay across the yard, blocking the front door.
The tree looked thick and strong, yet there it was, snapped like a toothpick.
Usually there are signs of age or disease before a tree just falls, but the onslaught of harsh winds puts it to the test.
You know what it’s like to face storms in life, challenging ministry decisions, relationships that are crumbling, or caring for your child as they struggle with health issues. Crisis reigns at times in our life and all we long for is peace and comfort in circumstances gone wrong.
We desire the contentment of Jesus laying asleep in the boat during the storm or the confidence of Paul addressing the angry mob - to face difficult circumstances without feeling so derailed, to be as the blessed one of Psalm 1 who, “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Ps 1:3).
In order to withstand the stress from the environment, that tree is deeply rooted, it’s healthy and nourished on a constant diet of God’s Word. Filling our hearts and minds with truth is how we remain steadfast and in the chaos, steadfastness guards us from snapping and here’s three ways how.
Guarded From Lies
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,” (2 Peter 3:17).
An encouragement along with a warning. Peter lifts our spirits by reminding God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him (2 Pet 1:3). The truth we already know: The gospel, which propels us toward spiritual growth, which increases our knowledge and then our holiness. The recipe for spiritual growth isn’t difficult, it begins, as the Sunday school song says, “read your bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”
Because, there’s a warning: We can be carried away. Peter warns the church of false teaching and the clever ways they entice us to follow. When life is in an uproar it’s hard to decipher our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs from all the noise, which makes false teaching difficult to resist unless our hearts remain steadfastly rooted in truth.
Guarded with Praise
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” (Psalm 57:7)
In seasons where life finds us walking along an even path, the words of this psalm are easier to voice. But the times we’re climbing, struggling to get our feet onto solid footing, we lack energy or conviction to carry praise across our tongue.
Holding onto the truth about God when we’re slipping and stumbling is like grasping the next obstacle on a slackline, if we don’t grip it, we’ll lose our balance and fall or stay stuck where we are and eventually tire out. But when we’ve reached it, there’s a shout of excitement and joy. Yet, even when things are chaotic around us and our hearts are weary we can whisper praise to God. Our hearts may not feel it, but that doesn’t negate what’s true.
Guarded in Hope
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19)
A steadfast heart keeps their eyes firmly fixed on God’s promises knowing, in all things, He will carry us through. When our circumstances are difficult, we question and doubt the days ahead, forgetting that our future has been and always will be secure because of Christ.
The shape of our time on earth may shift and change course, our expectations may shatter. But our hope isn’t in the world, it’s in Christ. Not how we want things to be but how He’s orchestrated them to be. Not what we wish for but what He has promised.
Be encouraged today to persevere in truth. Though you’re walking a journey you never imagined, He is faithful. Your labor for the Lord, your steps of obedience each day as you love and serve those around you brings glory to God. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
When the winds are howling around you, you’re bending so far you’re afraid you’ll break. He’s given us the revelation of who He is and how He is working in the world, may we root our hearts in Him.