As I came to God in prayer, that was the word that rose up in my spirit. It was unexpected but I trusted and prayed with that word as my focus. In the silence and the stillness, I began to pray for God's steadfastness to be shown in the lives of those I was praying for; that His steadfast love, healing, joy, mercy, tenderness, and goodness be poured out on the lives of the people, whose names I'd written down and kept in my Bible, so much so that others around them would be able to see the very hand of God in a tangible way.
We live in an ever-changing world where there is very little that we can truly call "steadfast." So often we feel like the very ground beneath our feet is constantly shifting and we are left disconcerted and befuddled by our circumstances, our culture, ourselves.
I cannot think of the word steadfast without thinking of Samwise Gamgee in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Out of deep, abiding friendship, Sam undertakes going with Frodo to Mount Doom in the middle of Mordor to help him destroy the one ring. He will not be persuaded, even by his friend Frodo, to stay behind. I love Tolkien's description of Sam:
One tiny Hobbit against all the evil the world could muster. A sane being would have given up, but Samwise burned with a magnificent madness, a glowing obsession to surmount every obstacle, to find Frodo, destroy the Ring, and cleanse Middle Earth of its festering malignancy. He knew he would try again. Fail, perhaps. And try once more. A thousand, thousand times if need be, but he would not give up the quest.
Sam is steadfast and we all long for such friends, especially in the midst of our trials, who cannot carry the burden of our suffering, but help to carry us when we are down, lonely, or in sorrow.
Steadfast in the Greek is hedraios and it means: sitting, seated, steadfast and firm.
The word is derived from the Greek word aphedron meaning "firm or immovable."
In Hebrew steadfast is emunah and means even more: firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, faithful, responsibility, stability, steady and truth.
Steadfast is a constancy in an inconstant world. It means that God is never-changing and always faithful. In the midst of uncertainty, He provides that which is firm, immovable and steady. This can be hard to see when we are in the midst of trials such as struggles with health or our marriage or the loss of someone we love. Yet God remains steadfast.
Notice that steadfast is not a feeling. Nowhere among its definitions is the word "emotions." Why? Because how we feel is fleeting and transitory. It shifts according to our circumstances.
"Have mercy on me, O God," David writes at the beginning of Psalm 51, "according to your steadfast love." That word also shows up in his next Psalm, "The steadfast love of God endures all day." (Psalm 51 was written after David was confronted by the prophet Nathan. Psalm 52 was composed when David was being pursued by Saul).
In Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah wrote during the destruction of Jerusalem, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Notice that both David and Jeremiah are writing of the steadfastness of God during the harshest, loneliest and desolate of times in their own lives and that of their nation. They understood that, unlike their present, God was steadfast.
Too often we see even our own lives through a glass dimly. We don't see the deeper reality but the surface. The Greeks have a word, ousia, which means the "true being, entity, essence or substance of something."
We believe that we see things clearly, but we don't. Did you know that a dragonfly's brain processes things so quickly that it sees every movement in slow motion? Or that a pigeon can see the subtle gradations of color that not even the most advanced computer can detect? A pigeon can literally see millions of different hues. Yet if we took a human, a dragonfly, a pigeon and a snake and showed each of them the same thing, they would each see it differently. Imagine then the perspective of God who can see beyond all space and time.
2nd Thessalonians 3:5 tells us, "May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ."
So as I come to pray each day, I will hold that word, steadfastness, deep within my own heart. It will shape and form the prayers I pray for others, for their lives, their needs (spoken and unspoken), and for their families. I pray that they will sense that God is a refuge, sanctuary, and strong tower for them. I pray that they and those around them will see clearly the steadfastness of a very personal God, an Abba God, an intimate Papa God.
This is my prayer.