Patient, Constant, Steadfast Love

Over the past few months I’ve been following the ‘Seasons’ Bible reading plan produced by The Village Church. Each day includes chapters from three different parts of the Bible. Often the verses have been thoughtfully paired up, so I see connections across Scripture that I otherwise would have missed.

One of the key themes God has been repeatedly impressing upon me through these readings is how he meets our inconstancy with patient, constant, steadfast love.

God’s faithfulness to Abraham

Recently I read Genesis 20, where Abraham lies to protect himself from a Philistine king:

“From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.” (Genesis 20:1–2)

Abraham fails on two fronts: to protect his wife, and to trust God, who had promised that he and Sarah would be the parents of a great nation. This wasn’t a one-off mistake—back in  Genesis 12, Abraham lies in exactly the same way to the Pharaoh of Egypt. He constantly sins against the God who had graciously made a covenant with him.

God shows his faithfulness by rescuing Sarah from Abimelech, and then keeping the promise he had made years earlier:

“The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.” (Genesis 21:1–2)

Even though Abraham’s faith was feeble, God stayed faithful to him. He blessed Abraham when he didn’t deserve it, simply because of his covenant promises.

Time and time again, the stories in Genesis make this same point: God is gracious and faithful when we are unfaithful.

Jesus’ faithfulness to his disciples

Alongside Genesis 20, the New Testament reading for that day was John 20–21. These chapters describe how Jesus appears to his disciples after he rises from the dead. He comforts them in their fear, shares a meal with them, and gives them final instructions. By seeing and touching his real resurrected body, they are assured that God will keep his promise and one day raise them from the dead.

These disciples who Jesus comforts were the very people who had abandoned him at his time of greatest need. Peter repeatedly denied Jesus, while the others fled at his arrest. They utterly let him down.

Yet Jesus graciously comes back to them without accusation or blame. He meets their inconstancy with steadfast love, as he did for Abraham. God has been faithfully caring for his people from the very beginning. His faithfulness has not wavered since those promises to Abraham, and they will prevail until the day Jesus returns.

As I reflected on these passages, I thought of the worship song ‘He Will Hold Me Fast’. I love the line: “For my love is often cold, he must hold me fast.”

Jesus doesn’t just love us despite our love being weak. We need him to love us because our love is weak—he is our only hope, as we will never love Jesus on our own. This song is a great comfort that God will sustain my faith even though I am sinful and fearful. The final verse reminds me of what Jesus’ faithfulness cost, and the joy it will bring on the last day:

“For my life He bled and died,
Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied;
He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life,
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight
When He comes at last!”

These promises have been sealed by Jesus’ blood, so we can wait for their fulfillment with patient and certain hope.

1 Comments

  1. Noel Rajive February 19, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    These disciples who Jesus comforts were the very people who had abandoned him at his time of greatest need.
    This.

    Reply

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