It strikes me that the saints of old are often called the faithful. The most famous example of this must be in the beloved Christmas hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful”. Those of us with even a small acquaintance with humanity know that none of us are naturally saintly nor faithful. What is it that enabled these pilgrims to be found thus, and in so doing, to become “joyful and triumphant”? What would allow us to do the same?
In the “Faith Hall of Fame” begun in Hebrews 11, those such as Abraham and Moses are referenced because they believed that God had power to do what He proclaimed, and were obedient, even unto death, despite great obstacles. It could be said they persevered in the calling God gave them regardless of the circumstances.Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness.” Paul wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (II Timothy 4:7). I have always thought of the two statements as two different accomplishments, but maybe they are one and the same. Maybe to be faithful, we just have to run our races, not win any prizes. Maybe we simply have to stay the course.
Today, we promise to be faithful in everything from attendance to marriage, and yet so few of us are. For most, it has come to mean loyal, or steadfast in fulfilling one’s promises or obligations. If we simply dissect the building blocks of the word, it is to be full of faith, but its definition parallels that of perseverance: “loyal, constant, staunch, steadfast, resolute, firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance, implying unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted” (Merriam-Webster). It would seem it is working in tandem with God, and taking Him at His word, that enables us to embody such constancy and unswerving devotion, and gives us the tools to persevere.
God makes us faithful, by being faithful to us. Each day, He asks us to run the course He’s set before us, and each day, He acts as our trainer and guide, as well as our fuel and our rest. I’ve found if I’ll just show up & take that first step forward, He’ll take me the rest of the way; irregardless, He shows up every day. He invites all to come, regardless of their qualifications or the training needed. The end results are in His hands, and regardless of how we place, He is “quick to mark even the simplest of efforts to please [Him]” (Tozer, A.W., The Attributes of God). He offers Himself to as the prize., and in so doing, He Himself is glorified. As we, the faithful, sing out each Christmas to THE Faithful One: “Jesus, to Thee be all glory given…..Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing…. O Come, let us adore Him….O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord” (“O Come All Ye Faithful”, Wade & Reading).