We humans tend to like pigeon-holing others with negative similes like ” stubborn as a mule.”
In fact the American Donkey and Mule Society defends this attribute in mules. Mules aren’t really stubborn … they just won’t put themselves in danger. The ” stubborn streak” is just their way of telling humans … things aren’t right.
In scripture stubbornness is only deemed as negative if it closes or hardens one’s heart against God instead of being open to His love.
For example think of Saul’s persecution of Christians until on a lonely road to Damascus his life was changed dramatically. Then God used this attribute as Paul’s greatest weapon … his greatest strength …as Paul stubbornly stood up to persecution as a born-again Christian.
In more recent times we saw this eerily similar transformation in famous theologian C.S. Lewis. After his spiritual transformation he wrote: ” God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”
I remember Aunt Eva telling me that mother was the stubbornness child in the family-the baby who rebelled against everything including college. Uncles Herschel and Harlette and Aunt Eva were all day students at Presbyterian College in Clinton SC -only about 15 miles from Laurens. M
other was four years younger than Eva and six or seven years younger than her big brothers-and she wanted off the farm-to see the world. So instead of a day student for four years-she opted for a two year business school degree at Winthrop College in Rock Hill-living on campus!
I will never forget mother telling me about the first time she got to come home for Christmas… it was snowing and the mountain roads icy. Suddenly the driver lost control and the bus started swerving-perilously close to the edge. Everyone was screaming and mother prayed to God if she would be spared she would quit being stubborn!
The bus made it home but God only answered part of her prayer because He knew she would need every bit of that stubborn perseverance to raise three children, literally single-handed, and put them all through college. God works in mysterious ways.
I come from Scotch-Irish ancestry …renown for their stubbornness but we also keep a sense of humor.
So until tomorrow ( line from a Scotch-Irish prayer!)” Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest… I am hard to turn.”