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Courage and Waiting

June 7th, 2018

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD. (Psalm 31:24 ESV)

“Be firm,” says the Lord, not weak or vacillating, but steady, consistent, and reliable. “Let your inner person be bold!” Do not despair or turn away in your mind from what God has given you to do.  Expect oppositions, but power through those shadows in the reality of God.

The key ingredients this verse teaches us are this blend in our minds of courage and waiting, or of boldness and faith. Surely faith comes first, and waiting upon the Lord in hope is an expression of faith.  We may wait without hope, and, in fact, we often do. I have known some to say, “I’m waiting for God to do such-and-such,” yet there is only resignation and not expectation. They feel that life and hope and God have passed them by, but they are aware enough of reality to know that only God can change their lives, though they do not expect Him to. If there is no hope in our hearts, no expectation of God’s coming and moving, then there is no faith.

True faith always has this element of courage about it. It is the courage to get back up in faith after life has knocked you down. It is the courage to believe in God’s goodness despite man’s betrayals, even to the point to bless those who cursed you (Matt. 5:44 and Rom. 12:14). In the midst of difficult and depressing circumstances, the believer says in his heart, “I do not expect things to always be like this. God will come and bless me again.”

If you have seen someone of faith who has endured loss of something, or someone, precious, yet continued courageously to live in hope, then you have seen someone of real faith. My wife and I were both blessed with parents like this, who endured loss and tragedy but reacted in courage and faith, expressed in simple waiting on the Lord. Their faith kept them going in the midst of loss, and where others would despair they stood boldly expecting God to bless them again. After great losses, they continued to serve in the church as Bible teachers, they continued to give to the church our of their love for God, and they continued to be encouragers to those around them. And God did bless them again, and the second (or was it third, or fourth?) was sweeter than the earlier one because of the condition of their hearts.

While we wait on God there is much we can do. The farmer who lost last year’s crop still plants and expectantly waits. The investor whose portfolio has been decimated by the sudden downturn of the economy still invests again in hope. The individual who loses friends and loved ones, still opens his heart to new friends. Waiting on the Lord is seen in doing the simple things of faith.

Our hearts must change, and even to ourselves our faith is proven by how we endure loss. The psalmist said to himself:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:5 ESV)

This is an expression of courage and waiting, to get up in the morning after the storm has destroyed everything we know and begin to build again. And it is often only in the loss of things that we see what is of true value in life. Courage and faith are much more valuable than this world knows!

Christ, when the multitudes turned away from Him, kept discipling His apostles. At the end that was all that mattered, not how many of the fickle crowd stayed with Him for the sake of entertainment, but how He had genuinely and lastingly touched the apostles. Often loss is God’s way of removing the unfruitful distractions from our lives. Better to have a few good friends than many who are mere acquaintances. Better to have one treasure that you enjoy than many that merely gather dust. Better to make a profound difference in one life than to be merely a novelty and curiosity to many. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it” (Prov. 15:17).

How is your faith expressing itself in courage today? How are you waiting on the Lord in boldness? Be like the iceberg, that obeys the deep water currents even when the surface wind blows in the opposite direction.

 

Psalms