Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22
During the 1960s, the words, “keep the faith, baby” became the mantra of the civil rights movement. The words were used by activists to motivate protesters to continue in their efforts to effect change. The road was difficult, progress was slow, but the people maintained hope that change would eventually come. Today, we find ourselves in a similar situation. While the world is still reeling from the upheaval caused by Covid-19, the nation is faced with another civil rights crisis. Jesus promised us peace; yet, when we look at the world around us, we see turmoil, unrest, confusion, fear, anger, hatred, division, and the list goes on. Although prayers are being offered, there is no apparent end to these situations. As a result, people are becoming weary and some Christians are losing heart.
In this difficult and often confusing season, I have found the lyrics of “Keep the Faith,” a song popularized by Pastor Charles Jenkins to be a source of hope and inspiration. As I reflected on the lyrics, I was reminded that the life of faith is one of total trust and dependence on God. Even when we do not understand what he is doing, we have to trust God’s purposes and hold fast to hope. We must have the spiritual discipline that enables us to keep trusting God, even when it is difficult to do so. The genuineness of our faith, the depth of our love, and the extent of our hope are being tested as we go through these unsettled times. However, we must remember that God is at work on our behalf, even in the face of the evils in our world. The Bible has many verses that not only encourage us to stand fast in trials but remind us that God will vindicate the cause of the righteous (c.f. John 16:33; Ps. 34, 1 Pet. 3:12; 4:12).
Just as advocates of justice encouraged activists to “keep hope alive.” Today, we must lift the banner of hope and encourage our brothers and sisters to keep the faith amidst the devastating effects of the increased outbreaks of coronavirus, rising death toll, and escalating violence. We cannot allow these circumstances to weaken our faith, but rather, motivate us to a greater intensity of prayer as we look to God for our deliverance. It is easy to become discouraged as we witness the economic and racial disparities that persist. These injustices should drive us to protest - not with violence and bloodshed, but with prayer. Prayer for wisdom and courage to take a stand guided by the Holy Spirit.
As we cry out for justice, we must look to God’s word. The prophet Isaiah provides keys to help navigate these troubling times. Isaiah’s day was not much different than ours. Corrupt leadership, economic oppression, and social injustice were prevalent. Yet, Isaiah exhorted the people to God to keep the faith, to hope in God, and to trust that he would usher in the needed change in the heart of the people ( Isa. 32: 16-17). The issues of social injustice, racial inequality, economic disparity are symptoms of a more deeply rooted evil. Isaiah reminded the people that their deliverance would come by the power of God’s Spirit (v. 15). Similarly, the problems that plague our society will only be transformed by the Holy Spirit. As people of God, we must remain vigilant in prayer and hold on to our faith.
God has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to maintain constant hope despite our circumstances (Rom. 15:13). We are equipped to live faithfully through our trials and find peace in knowing that God is with us. Not only that, but Jesus promised to leave us his peace. The peace that we have in Christ is not like that of the world. It is not dependent on circumstances but is grounded in hope- a living hope that sees beyond troubled times. It is a hope that is rooted in the faithfulness of God. As we recall the countless times he has intervened in history, we know that our prayers are not in vain. Hope energizes our faith and enables us to persevere through trials and maintain our trust and confidence in God. Like Judah in Isaiah’s time, we must look to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to establish righteousness in the land. The key to abiding faith is hope that is focused on the certainty of God’s promises. Don’t lose heart, God is true to his word, For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry (Heb. 10:37 KJV).