The mammoth ship started sinking into the bone-chilling North Atlantic waters. Distress rockets exploded into the sky. You could hear the pandemonium and sheer terror over the buckling, twisting steel.
Amidst the chaos, eight musicians began playing a serene, unearthly melody; “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as rumor has it. They kept playing when it was their turn to get into a lifeboat. They played faithfully until their untimely end, the sweet, soft sounds echoing off the unforgiving waters.
This April marked 106 years since the Titanic sank into the Atlantic, killing well over 1,000 passengers. Those musicians have mystified historians for the past century. What was going on in their minds? How could they keep playing in the face of certain death?
FAITHFULNESS IN THE FACE OF FUTILITY?
In the account of their last hours, we see a picture of faithfulness in the midst of seeming futility. So many times, we find ourselves in dim and seemingly hopeless situations. We might not aboard a ship sinking into frozen waters, but our hearts sink from the loss of a loved one, a battle with cancer, or feeling the weight of our bodies getting older and falling apart. We might not face certain death, but we have witnessed the death of our dreams; the death of what we thought our lives should look like.
Our day-to-day circumstances can feel like waves threatening to drown us in sorrow. The tempest tempts us to look away from our Savior and down into the swirling abyss. Too often we let circumstances take the rudder of our ship, steering us forward instead of into God’s promises.
We are so often faithless. But the good news is that God is faithful in the midst of our faithlessness (2 Tim. 2:13). God is committed to his people and his promises. But how can we be faithful to God in the midst of turmoil and trouble? How can we have an unwavering, unflinching trust in him? God’s Word gives us four ways.
1. ASK AND SEEK
First, the Bible tells us to ask and seek for faithfulness. The Greek word for faithfulness in the Bible literally means “being full of faith.” It means being reliable, steadfast, unwavering, not wishy-washy or fickle. God imparts this gift of faith through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and through the hearing of God’s Word. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (RoM. 10:17).
If we are to be completely dependent on God to open our eyes of faith, our prayer should be, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). We should spend time daily reading and preaching the gospel to ourselves because God works in hearts through his Word by the power of his Spirit. God’s Word is our light when we find ourselves in dark, distant waters. His Spirit will be our bravery when everything is falling apart.
2. REMEMBER AND REMIND
The second way the Bible tells us to foster faithfulness is simply by remembering. When we reflect on what God has done in our lives, we can say, “The Lord’s loving-kindnesses indeed never cease; for his compassions never fail; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).
The tossing waves won’t be so threatening when we know our God is bigger than the oceans. Our circumstances will seem trivial in light of eternity. Let’s choose to remember how God has been faithful, and let those memories embolden us to keep playing a beautiful tune to the glory of God in the midst of trouble and travail.
Not only do we need to remind ourselves what God has done, but we need to remind others of his faithfulness. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13).
Telling others what God has done in our lives protects them from the enemy’s lies and from doubting God’s promises. We need to hear stories of God’s faithfulness daily, and so do our brothers and sisters. Like the eight musicians who played their way into their icy graves, we need others to stand with us, playing the song of God’s faithfulness into the long, cold night.
3. SURRENDER AND ABIDE
Third, the Bible tells us we can foster faithfulness by surrendering and abiding. The fruit of faithfulness is not the fruit of our works, but the result of the Spirit’s work in us. If you are in Christ, you are like clay in the potter’s hands. He is the one molding and shaping you in his image. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
When we abide, or remain in unbroken relationship with God, seeking to know him, to be like him, and to surrender to his work in our lives, we will bear the fruit of faithfulness in due time. But we can only do this by God’s keeping power.
We can take comfort that God is steadfast in his commitment to sustaining us. The Lord “will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,” (1 Cor. 1:8-9).
4. REPENT AND OBEY
When the Titanic hit the gargantuan iceberg that doomed the “unsinkable ship,” most of the passengers were asleep because it was midnight. We too fall asleep. We get comfortable and lose the urgency in following Jesus. We give our allegiance to the idols of comfort, control, approval, or power.
Let’s heed this stark warning Jesus gave to the church in Sardis: “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you” (Rev. 3:2-3).
Jesus’ words here are startling and might even seem harsh. But when he called his people to follow him, he told them to take up their cross—to die to themselves—daily. Let’s search our hearts and ask the Lord to show us the sins we cling to. If we find we have been faithless, let’s repent and turn back to following Christ with all our might in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can know God’s grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). We can be confident that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Whichever comes first, Christ’s return or our last breath, let us be found faithful, by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power. Let’s be on our guard, daily repenting from sin.
FINDING CALM AMONG THE STORM
As the Titanic disappeared into the dark waters, there was a faithfulness amidst the chaos and dread. Eight musicians played a lively tune as they met their earthly deaths.
In this world, we will have trials and tribulation but let’s be found living faithfully to the glory of God. May our lives be a startlingly beautiful, hopeful harmony resounding in the ears of the world around us.
When the storms of life come, let’s play our song all the louder, clinging to God’s promises. Let’s live lives that burn brighter by the day instead of sinking into the night. Let’s press forward by God’s grace power until we hear those sweet words from our Lord: “Well done, good, and faithful servant … enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).
Delilah Pugsley is a wife, friend, sister, daughter and a Christ-follower serving in a church plant in Mid-Missouri. She writes on her blog https://www.graceinreallife.com, and you can reach her at [email protected].