I felt like I could use a little edification on the characteristic of being steadfast, so I did some research that I want to share with you.
But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution—behold, they are they which shall not perish. (2 Nephi 26:8)
Nephi spoke this about those of his people who would get to see the Savior’s visit to the Americas. This verse teaches me that steadfastness has to be used in the midst of persecution that comes. Even if the opposition is within as well as without, we need to be steadfast and not waver.
Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them. (Alma 1:25, emphasis added)
In the context of the above verse, church members had to deal with the psychological pressure of many other church members leaving the church and also persecution from outside the church from unbelievers and people who practiced priestcraft.
So this verse teaches me that being steadfast means doing what’s right even when others of the church are wavering, losing faith, or joining the opposition.
Wherefore, be not deceived, but continue in steadfastness, looking forth for the heavens to be shaken, and the earth to tremble and to reel to and fro as a drunken man, and for the valleys to be exalted, and for the mountains to be made low, and for the rough places to become smooth—and all this when the angel shall sound his trumpet. (D&C 49:23, emphasis added)
This tells us that deception may try to move us from our beliefs and from faith in prophecy that has been given, so we have to hang on to what we’ve been told in the scriptures about what will happen, even if we wonder how it will come about.
Deception is also used to try to get us to sin, so we have to be steadfast in believing that the commandments must be followed and that they will ensure our happiness. Commandments are a great tool for detecting deception.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58, emphasis added)
We will get thoughts floating through our heads telling us that our good work is pointless and has no eternal significance. To be steadfast, we have to ignore these thoughts and keep working, trusting that no good work is in vain.
In that vein I want to include something C.S. Lewis has written about faith in his book Mere Christianity. It has excellent application to how we maintain steadfastness as we face our challenges.
But supposing a man’s reason once decides that he weight of the evidence is for it [Christianity]. I can tell you that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. And once again his wishes and desires will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it.
Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.
The first step is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and church-going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. (p123-124)
How this helps us is it tells us a truth that is passed over by many—that our moods change and can even rebel against the things we have previously gained testimony of or what we’ve covenanted to do or decided must be done. The important thing is not to yield to the mood, but to dig in one’s heels. Once you realize it is a mood, you know that if you resist long enough or pray for help to outlast it and kick it out, it will change.
So, steadfastness is that quality of refusing to be turned from the right path just because of 1) changing mood, 2) a wholesale defection of others, 3) persecution, 4) different beliefs others hold about the prophecies of what is still to come, 5) doubts about the significance of your own efforts in the eternal scheme of things.
I studied this topic last week and it was just in time because I went through a bit of a spiritual blitz over the weekend, and I had to stay steadfast. In other ways it was like being stuck in a spiritual whirlpool. I had to dig in my heels, pray hard, and keep praying over and over and over. I saw the Lord’s tender mercies strengthen me and deliver me.