Through the Eyes of an Old, Young Man: Being Stubborn in Faith
In my young age of 22, I have already experienced growing up on countless occasions, perhaps on too many occasions. Growing up in most cases was associated with earning the ire of my Dad. Our numerous “disciplinary sessions” would always follow a certain pattern. He would ask me what I did wrong, then when I am able to recite my offense correctly, penance in the form of leather connecting to my behind would inevitably follow. This was always followed by an explanation of why he did it; why I had to be punished, even if I was too young to understand.
By the way, and for the record, I don’t resent my Dad for the strict and sometimes seemingly draconian discipline he imposed on me as a child. On the contrary, it made me love my Dad more. Looking back, I am now grateful to him for being hard on me. I may not have understood it then, but I know now that each time he disciplined me, he did so out of love. If it weren’t for his desire to give me a strong foundation, I wouldn’t be the man I am right now. I would be a boy in a man’s body, which, sadly, I see in many grown up men today. So for those who think that these things that I experienced growing up scarred me for life, you’re right; but warriors are never ashamed of the scars they acquire in battle. I wear my (figurative) scars proudly. This disciplined upbringing taught me a lot of things which would also serve well many of today’s youth.
My Dad and I had many of those disciplinary sessions and talks because I was stubborn. In my case, this stubbornness was really hard-headedness. While the word “stubborn” has been given a negative connotation and most of us connect the word with being bad or as something that gets us in trouble, it has a different side to it, and this is why I’m now telling you to go and be stubborn! Yes, you read it right; go out into the world and be stubborn; but before you do, please finish reading this article first.
As Christians, we ought to be exceedingly and tremendously stubborn in our faith! Wait! Before you click that red X in the corner of your screen, allow me to clarify my statements. Let me start off by giving you some synonyms for the word stubborn courtesy of MS Word’s very convenient thesaurus function: persistent, tenacious, determined, persevering.
Now how can a word with such a negative connotation mean “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something”? Suddenly the word “stubborn” doesn’t sound so bad, because being stubborn is not bad as long as that something that we are determined not to change our stand on is true and right, and who is more true and right than our God?
As Christians, we have to be exceedingly stubborn in our faith. We cannot be like a leaf that is tossed by the winds of a storm because being a Christian means facing a storm with its strong winds and heavy rains every day of our walk with Christ. Christianity is not a leisurely stroll in the middle of a meadow while singing praise and worship songs. It’s quite the opposite, because Christianity is a battle that’s waged every day and every moment of our lives. It’s a constant struggle. That’s why Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me”. Notice that He doesn’t say, “Okay, for those of you who want to come and follow Me, let’s wait for the limo to pick us up”. The path of Jesus isn’t the easiest of paths as we can read from the four Gospels. He lived a hard life and yet He asks you and me to pick up our cross and follow Him. I paraphrase His statement in this manner: “Pick up your cross and live like I lived”; or if you want to go deeper, “Pick up your cross and LOVE LIKE I LOVED”.
What a tall order! Some might ask, “How am I supposed to accomplish that?” Some might even be discouraged to continue being Christians. To those of you reading this and are starting to feel that way, don’t lose hope yet because I’ll tell you how you are going to accomplish this seemingly Herculean task.
All of us who choose to walk in the way of Christ, those of us who commit ourselves to love like He did do so successfully because we have God guiding us and the Holy Spirit helping and empowering us. If Christianity is like facing a storm, God is the roof over our head and the Holy Spirit is the fire keeping as warm. With God’s presence, we can weather out any storm that comes our way. If Christianity is like a battle, then God is our General and the Holy Spirit our sword and shield, enabling us to cut down the enemy and be victorious. You see, we are fully equipped with all the tools and armed to the teeth with all we need in order to follow Christ. But what use are all those tools if we don’t wield them? This is where another crucial piece comes in.
We need to be stubborn in our faith. We need to be stubborn because the world will throw everything and anything at us to try to shake our faith and force us to choose a different path, a different way of living our lives, perhaps an easier one. It will put us in circumstances where we feel helpless, where we feel alone and unloved. We will have to face all these and more, and it is during these times that we have to plant our feet firmly on the ground and be even more stubborn in our faith, refusing to be moved! We have to be stubborn in believing that our God is an ever present help in our time of need. We have to be stubborn in knowing that God will never leave us nor forsake us, but most importantly, we have to be exceedingly stubborn in our confidence that the God who created the Universe, who shattered the gates of hell and broke the chains of death, loves us and is with us, especially in the most trying times.
We have to be so stubborn in our faith to the point that those who seek to separate us from our God finally runs out of ways to shake us, and end up saying, “We’ve tried everything and we can’t beat them, so let’s join them instead.”.
As we grow stronger in our faith, stubbornly holding on to God’s promises, so too will the tests and trials thrown at us grow and become more severe. But having overcome many setbacks, we will have learned that God is allowing these tests and trials into our lives only because He wants to build up our faith some more; because He has a plan for us; because He is preparing us for greater things. So we don’t give up!
If we live this way, we will inspire others to have the same faith, and in this way, we will bring the world to God through our stubbornness. After all it was also Jesus’ stubbornness to fulfill the mission given to him by His Father, no matter the rejection and persecution He faced, that won for us our salvation. By the way, I do believe that at any time in His life, Jesus could have just said, “Nope, sorry God; I’m not going to do that”, and then walked away; but He didn’t. He was stubborn in His faith, as we ought to be.
So when this world throws at you situations and problems that are meant to shake your faith, you know what to do. Stand firm and plant your feet on Christ, the most solid foundation there is, and be exceedingly stubborn in believing that no matter how difficult life becomes, God will never leave you because He is stubbornly in love with you.
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