"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity"(Prov 17:17)
We all long for true friends. Experience has taught us that the true test of a friend is their reaction to adversity and times when the relationship is strained. It is easy to be a friend when things are good, but the Bible tells us that a true friend "loves at all times"(Prov 17:17). Six times the New Testament declares to us that God is faithful-assuring us that He is someone we can depend on, even in times of difficulty.
God is faithful when the pressure is on. When we are tested and tempted, weak and vulnerable, we must remember the strength and faithfulness of our God. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it"(1 Cor 10:13). When the pressure is on and sin is at its most alluring, God is faithful. He gives us assurance-a rock-solid promise-that we can resist and escape. We may struggle and battle with temptation, but we have a sure friend, always there to help if we seek Him. Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for him, "that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for not all have faith"(2 Thess 3:2). But how would the Thessalonians be protected from such? "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one"(2 Thess 3:3). When wicked people beset us or attempt to bewitch us, our God is faithful. When the battle lines of the gospel are drawn, our God is there, faithful and true. He will not hide when the pressure is on, but continues to guard His children from the devil and all his devices.
God is faithful to keep His promises. At times we allow doubt to creep into our minds about the promises we find in the Scripture. Are we sure of true salvation from sin? Will our soul truly live forever? In the face of such doubts, God's faithfulness strengthens us. "who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless 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). God will not lose our application, or forget that we are His children. He will "confirm you to the end" because He is faithful. Paul told the Philippians that "He who has begun a good work in you will complete until the day of Jesus Christ"(Phil 1:6). We are imperfect, but God will continue to work on our lives and complete His work in us as long as we continue in Him. These promises are not hopes, dreams, or prayers, but are the promises of a faithful God to assure His children of the certainty of His care for them. These promises and assurances should cause us with all our hearts to desire to remain faithful to our faithful God. "Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful"(Heb 10:23). God will always keep His promises and always be faithful to us-will we be faithful to Him?
Yet here is the truly amazing consideration-God is faithful even when we stray! "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself"(2 Tim 2:13). When we are faithless, it does not change the nature of God! When we sin and rebel against God, He would be perfectly just in ending our relationship forever. Like an earthly friend, we would not blame Him for being so wounded that He turned His back on us once and for all. Yet in such cases "He remains faithful" and will always have us back if we are willing to repent. Perhaps it is when we are in this state-grieved by our sin and devastated and the breach in our relationship with God-that we most need to remember God's faithfulness. Hence John tell us 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). If we fulfill His terms of forgiveness (repentance and confession), God is always faithful to forgive us. We do not need to struggle with whether God will forgive this sin, or whether we have sinned too much to ever be right with God again. He is "faithful and just to forgive us" even when we stray. Like the prodigal son, we come crawling home only to be amazed at the love and kindness of a Father who is always faithful.