Hold Fast: wrong-headed thoughts on endurance
When it comes to trials, most Christians act like sailers and tattooist. One of the classic maritime tattoos is the words “Hold Fast” across the knuckles. The idea goes back to the days where mariners would fight back their urges to abandon ship and give up their mission. In the face of these struggles, their fist cried, “Hold Fast”. When a greenhorn sailor would cower in the face of an impending storm, the weathered vet could flash as strong message with his hands.
Most of the time, our response as believers to trials and hardship in our lives is close to the same. When work gets tough, when our marriage is hard, when our kids won’t behave, when money runs out: Hold fast. Just keep hanging on. Just keep going.
Sometimes, if we are thinking spiritually, we endure our trials by thinking ahead to heaven. We think ahead to a time when our troubles will be gone. Just imagine heaven. Just think of the day when this will all be over. Hold fast.
The deep and abiding trouble with this is that My focus is being, ever so slightly, directed in the wrong way. I am being told to hold fast to hope in heaven. Hold fast to the idea that this will all be over some day.
In reality, this is a form of idolatry. It is clever, religious idolatry. It is evil because it ultimately directs my attention off of Christ and onto a blessing he is giving me. I am worshiping the gift and not the Giver. Ultimately anything, even any good thing, that takes our eyes of of Christ is idolatrous. Any gift, any misplaced hope, any thing that we seek comfit in apart from Jesus is idolatry.
So then our prayers and approach to trials should not be one of “Father get me out of this”. Rather we should pray like Christ, “Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come. Father glorify your name”. I trials are for His glory and He has given us the resources to walk through them.
What we need is not less trials, but more Jesus.