THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Friday, March 5th
Read Psalm 27.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14 (NRSV)
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.” ~ Mary Ann Radmacher
Psalm 27 begins with the familiar words, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” The psalmist then goes on to name some very real threats, but dismisses each of them with his trust in God’s protection and strength. Evildoers will stumble and fall… armies and wars will not shake his confidence… he will be sheltered from trouble… he will be lifted up even if his parents forsake him. This is our spiritual invitation for today, to Let our hearts take courage, even when we face adversaries that threaten our well-being.
What adversaries do we have? What causes us to fear?
Some of mine are social, global, and environmental issues; some include my worry for the well-being, safety, and equality of my children and grandchildren; and some are health related, such as the possibility that my cancer will return. But there are also lesser “adversaries” that can seem just as intimidating or threatening. A lack of confidence as I write my book – will it be good enough? A concern that I will upset someone when I write of difficult or divisive topics – will I receive angry responses? I think we all can feel quite vulnerable when we put ourselves ‘out there’, don’t you?
When I was preparing this reflection, I learned that (except for the Apocrypha) the Bible does not include the word bravery, although the word courage is used quite often. Perhaps there is no significant reason for this, but I was blessed to discover the differences between bravery and courage. I hope you will be, too.
Here is an excerpt from one article:
Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger, or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. It is strength in character that allows a person to always be seemingly bigger than the crisis, whether he is indeed more powerful or lesser than what he is facing. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear. More than a quality, it is a state of mind driven by a cause that makes the struggle worth it. Unlike in the case of bravery, a person fueled by courage may feel inevitably small in the face of peril, pain, or problems. The essence of courage is not the feeling of being capable of overcoming obstacles, but rather the willful choice to fight regardless of the consequences and limitations.… Courage is a result of a deep understanding of the matter; a courageous person truly understands what they’re getting themselves into and who or what they’re doing it for. For instance, a courageous man knows he might die if he enters a burning building to save his son. He shivers at the thought of burning to death, but proceeds anyway – because of the love he has for his child.1
This excerpt certainly describes Jesus! And these words can describe each of us, too. We are called to keep helping one another, to keep working for what is right, to keep doing what Jesus calls us to do, even when we are intimidated or afraid.
There may be enemies all around us – real, imagined, or exaggerated – but how might we face them with courage? How can we take on difficult but important challenges despite our fear?
The psalmist encourages us to “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” The moment we pause to wait for the Lord, we will discover he is already with us. We continue on in faith, trusting we will find our guidance and strength in his presence, letting our hearts ‘take’ courage from God because we cannot generate it on our own. We move forward – not knowing what we may encounter – but knowing the One who is worth it all. We may be shaking in our shoes, but our souls will be centered in certainty.
May we let Jesus continue to call us to new and surprising challenges, trusting that he goes with us, providing everything we need to do the next right thing with unwavering courage.
Our Bible readings for Monday will be Psalm 61:4 and Mark 9:5.
Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com/