You must pay for everything in this world, one way or another. There is nothin' free except the grace of God. Mattie Ross, True Grit, 1969.
Living a full and abundant life is hard work. It takes grit. John Wayne had grit…in the movies anyway! I must admit I haven’t watched the famous western, True Grit, but I have read the Cliff Notes. Needless to say, there was a lot of fightin’ and dyin’ along the way, but eventually the bad guys were conquered, and the good guys won. The plot is always the same—good versus evil. It all works out in the end. In the meantime, it takes true grit to survive.
The dichotomy of good versus evil isn’t something reserved for old Westerns. As Christians we experience some form of this every day. The enemy of our souls is searching for every opportunity to discourage, discredit, and disable. The ground is ripe right now as emotions are high surrounding the opening of schools. Fear and uncertainty don’t always bring out the best in us. It is going to take true grit to weather this season with grace.
Grit is not a term I use often, so I did some digging. Synonyms include perseverance, courage, resilience, and steadfastness. While the actual word “grit” does not appear in the Bible, its meaning is all throughout Scripture. I want to hone in on a couple of terms: steadfastness and perseverance.
To be steadfast means to be unwavering, resolute, and faithful. It takes true grit to be steadfast especially when times are tough and seem to never end! In the midst of frustration and turmoil, it’s easy to become self-absorbed and overwhelmed. Our mind can spin out of control as we turn inward envisioning gloomy scenarios in our minds. Before we know it, everything seems a whole lot worse. Remaining steadfast means holding on to God’s promises; otherwise, we open the door for Satan to get a foothold.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:5
True grit also involves perseverance. To persevere means to be determined, dedicated, and persistent despite our circumstances. Our current situation with COVID-19 is really testing our perseverance. When we left school last March, most felt we would return before the end of the year. Now it is August, and we are still not back to schooling like we know it should be done. To say it is frustrating is an understatement, but we press on. We work hard. We persevere. While efforts may go unappreciated, God sees. Don’t lose heart!
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
If you are feeling in need of some true grit these days, you are not alone. God’s Word provides many examples of those who displayed extraordinary examples of steadfastness and persistence.
· Noah built the arc over decades as he waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
· Abraham and Sarah lived like strangers in the land of promise and waited twenty-five years into old age for the fulfillment of God’s promised child.
· Joseph, abandoned in an Egyptian prison, waited for God’s promise to be realized.
· Moses led the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years.
When I read these accounts (and there are more), I can’t imagine having that kind of grit! All of these people faced difficult circumstances that required steadfastness and persistence over a long period of time. It could not have been easy. How did they possibly do it? There are probably several answers to this question, but from my perspective I think it took a whole lot of faith and an enormous amount of God’s grace! True grit—the Biblical kind—cannot be sustained apart from faith.
Faith reminds us we can trust the promises of God.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. Hebrews 11:1-2
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20
Faith fills us with hope.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25
Faith is required.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
Biblical grit cannot be obtained without God’s grace. Steadfastness and persistence are often developed during times of adversity. None of us like adversity. If it were up to us, we would avoid trials at all costs, but it is during these ordeals that we grow the most. It is during times of difficulty that we learn to rely on God; as a result, our faith is strengthened. Hardship opens the door to God’s faithfulness. Adversity is an opportunity to experience God’s grace.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Times are tough, but so are we! True grit is possible!
Faith is on us. Grace is on God, and grace is free. Even Mattie Ross knew that!