Thursday, January 17, 2019

Reasons for Not Losing Heart

Do you ever have a day, even for a fleeting moment, when you wake up and think, “I’m not getting out of bed today”? You’re tempted to pull the covers over your head and pretend, like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, that if you can’t see the world, the world can’t see you.

Maybe you made the mistake of watching the evening news before going to bed, absorbing the daily gloom and doom reports, receiving assurances by smiling commentators that yes, the sky is indeed falling. Or you’ve learned a family member or close friend has received a devastating diagnosis and you feel at a loss, wishing there was some way you could help. Financial woes might be plaguing you.

Perhaps it’s just the stress of everyday, unrelenting demands and problems that either refuse to go away or when they do disappear, are succeeded by dilemmas even more daunting. Some mornings – or moments – staying in bed and disappearing beneath the blankets seems awfully enticing.

Maybe this doesn’t describe you. Maybe you’re an eternal optimist, maybe a Pollyanna type, fully convinced everything’s going to be okay. Or you’re able to summon up a daily dose of courage and strength, determined not to let even the most dire circumstances deter you from your plans. If so, congratulations. Enjoy your minority group.

Dark moments as I’ve described above don’t strike me often, but admittedly I’ve experienced them now and then. I think back to the blissful oblivion of my childhood. Things seemed so much simpler then, even though in reality they weren’t. I was born just a few years after the end of World War II, but there were still the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War to come. Bad news has always been with us.

Even though we hear well-meaning sentiments like “all we need is love” and declarations that world peace can be attained, we see little evidence to support such contentions. Protesters hoisting placards promoting love spew hatred toward those who don’t share their worldviews. Advocates of tolerance demonstrate great intolerance for anyone that disagrees with them. The only “middle ground” in Congress, it seems, consists of the physical aisles that separate the opposing parties.

So why shouldn’t we retreat beneath the bedclothes, burying our hearts and thoughts from the nasty, strife-filled world surrounding us?

We can adopt a “just gotta do what you gotta do” attitude, muddling through each day with gritted teeth and bulldog determination. Or we can turn to the Scriptures and trust in the promises and assurances we find there.

In my wallet I carry two verses that always lift my spirits when everything else seems intent on doing the opposite. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14).

Obviously this passage was written by the psalmist thousands of years ago, but in my experience – and that of countless millions of other believers up until the present day – God hasn’t changed since then.

There’s another verse that I’ve also found heartening for our faint of heart moments. Isaiah 40:31 declares emphatically, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Go ahead, hide under the covers if you like. Stick your head in the sand if that makes you feel better. But I’ll choose instead to look the unsteady present and uncertain future in the eye, knowing that even though I might be helpless to change or fix anything, I serve and worship the God who can. And does.

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