16Nov

My Favorite Word in the Old Testament

The last 2 weeks or so have easily been some of the most stressful and uncertain in my life.

I don’t intend to stack it against your most stressful or uncertain week, though. Many of you have suffered and endured more than I could ever imagine.

  • My wife and I do not have any children yet so we do not know what the loss of a child is like.
  • We have consistently had provision for our basic needs so we know nothing of what it is like to wonder where our next meal would come from or how we would keep the lights on in our house or the heater on in winter.
  • Both of us have been consistently employed in jobs we enjoy so we have never felt like we were giving ourselves to something pointless not do we know the sinking feeling of unemployment and all that often comes with it (depression, identity crisis, self-esteem issues, etc.)

With that said, though…here’s what went down in a matter of days.

  • We discovered a hole in our roof…when it rained. When the roof fella came over to work on it, he put his boot through the ceiling of our dining room. When it rains, it pours. Literally. In our dining room. Upside? We had a skylight for a few weeks!
  • Our oldest dog, Cooper, almost died. We’re kinda dog people so this was maybe a bigger deal for us than it would have been for you, and that’s okay. We discovered he had a huge tumor blocking his digestive tract, and stealing all kinds of nutrients from his body. He stopped being himself and lost tons of weight, rapidly. We took him to the vet and they scheduled surgery the next morning. Sometime the night before the surgery his tumor ruptured, filling his stomach up with blood. Surgery went great! He’s back to his old self and will be great but he was 10 hours away from dying.
  • The engine in my car fried. The ENGINE. You know, the part that makes a car…a car. The engine cost more than my car is worth.
  • My wife’s teeth have apparently been in an open revolt against her for some time now. She went for a check-up and came out with more bling in her mouth than 50 Cent. Then part of that bling didn’t do its job so she had to get a full-on root canal. Lovely.
  • Somewhere in the middle of all of this I attended an out-of-state conference for 3 days.

I’m sure you know what this season is like. Everything seems like it’s about one second from spinning out of control. The other shoe has dropped about 10 times and you’re wondering how many other things could go wrong. You don’t know who Murphy is but his law sucks and if you ever find him you’re gonna punch him right in the jaw.

It’s in moments and seasons like these that I return again and again to my favorite word in all of the Old Testament. I highlight/circle/box/underline it every single time I come across it.

STEADFAST

It can actually be a catch-all word in English because 6 or 7 words in Hebrew are translated as “steadfast” in the Old Testament but we understand the meaning. Steadfast means stable, enduring, patient, constant, never-wavering, long-suffering, etc.

It’s probably the quality I most admire in others.

In the Old Testament, it’s almost always referring to the character and nature of God, his steadfast love. It’s the Hebrew equivalent of “grace” albeit rather roughly translated.

Think about it. God’s grace, his loving kindness, is most often expressed to us in his stability, in his enduring, never-wavering love for people who constantly waver from him.

Even though we far too often “swerve to the right or to the left” (Proverbs 4:27) God never does.

This should give us great encouragement when life kind of hits the fan. If I were to go back through the list I cited earlier of all the things that converged upon us in a stressful time, I could show you all of these situations sort of worked out. Some were more expensive than expected but some weren’t. Our dog could have just as easily died but he didn’t. My wife could have lost her entire tooth but she didn’t.

But none of that has anything to do with God’s steadfastness, not really. To say it does is to promote some type of prosperity gospel which would be a desertion of grace and a “turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Our circumstances could have gone worse but they also could have gone better. Either way, God is steadfast in his love toward us and that was, is, and always will be our greatest hope.

“20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
    because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.” – Psalm 33:20-22

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