“All this has come upon us; but we have not forgotten You, nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from Your way” (Psalm 44:17,18).
HOLDING TRUE TO OUR COMMITMENT TO GOD IS EASIER AT SOME TIMES THAN AT OTHERS. On some days, the wind is at our back, helping us to go in the right direction, but on other days, the wind blows fiercely in our face, making it awfully tempting to turn back. But we can’t keep our commitment to God just when it’s easy. In fact, when remaining faithful is hard, that’s when it’s especially important to stay the course. We may be afflicted, persecuted, or even chastened with hardship by God Himself, but come what may, we must be people whose hearts don’t turn back.
To live is to be moving. On any day, we will always be “going” one direction or another. It’s important, then, to keep from going backward. We may not be making as much forward progress as we’d like, and at times it may seem that we’re standing still. But at least we can determine not to go backward.
All of us, of course, will be tempted to turn back. There is not a one of us who hasn’t (at least secretly) given some thought to throwing our faith away and just living like the world. Jesus may have thought about it on other occasions as well, but in Gethsemane, He certainly thought about turning back. In His prayer, He confessed to a desire to turn back — but He made the choice to go forward. And like our Lord, we need to go forward toward God with a passion and a determination that simply will not be denied!
When a decision has to be made whether to follow God or turn back, it’s important not to let that decision be made by our feelings alone. As good and valuable as our feelings may be (they were given to us by God), they are, by themselves, no true test of what God wants us to do. And mark it well: our feelings are no test of whether God is “near” us or not. At all times, God is certainly with us — supporting us and helping us to do what is right, whether it feels that way or not. And so, in darkness, doubt, and difficulty, we need to hang on to our faith and simply refuse to turn back.
“In times of dryness and desolation we must be patient and wait with resignation the return of consolation, putting our trust in the goodness of God. We must animate ourselves by the thought . . . that we have not necessarily lost his grace because we have lost the taste and feeling of it” (Ignatius of Loyola).