Debra Oaks Coe
“Hold Fast” is an old nautical term and a ship command for difficult times, especially in very stormy weather.
My understanding is that it means not only to hang on yourself but to hang on with one hand and use the other hand to help others and help the ship. That gave me a completely different view of that scriptural term. In the past, I have thought of “hold fast” only in terms of what I am doing to hang tight to the word of God and holding on with both hands. I’ve only seen it as an individual decision that I make for myself with no thought of what I should be doing to help others around me.
On a ship during a storm, if everyone just stood still and held on to the ship with both hands, the entire ship could easily sink and take everyone with it. All of us have times in our lives when we don’t have the strength to hold fast on our own and need other people to help us hang on. Helping others is the core of the gospel. It is the heart of the example Jesus gave us as his entire life was about service to others.
When our son passed away after a long-term chronic illness. So many friends, neighbors, and people from our church congregation came and stretched out their free hand and held on to us and to our family. Holding on and showing friendship is such an important part of getting through life for all of us. The importance of being there for each other is quite underestimated.
Human beings have survived is by uniting and working together. We don't have any real natural defenses against predators. It is our combined efforts and ingenuity that have preserved us over thousands of years. Together we are stronger than any of us would be alone. Division and people only looking out for themselves are what make us weak. We need each other.
This doesn't mean just holding fast to the people in our church congregations or our family members that have made the choices we agree with. This means holding fast to those that disappoint us, people with different beliefs, people outside of our family and social circles; it means holding fast to all the people around us.
As I thought of holding fast with this new perspective, I thought of Jesus Christ and His example. He clung to the word of God while also reaching out to help and elevate the people in need around Him. He extended His hand to all kinds of people struggling through life.