"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10 CSB
Courage takes many forms, doesn't it? In certain historical moments, it may mean going into battle to defend your nation. It may mean taking up arms or raising funds or joining a march to aid a beleaguered people across the sea. It may mean running into a burning building or running towards the sound of shots fired in order to protect and serve your community. It can mean, and recently has, risking your life and persevering through exhaustion and burnout to provide medical care to strangers in a pandemic, even though that means no contact with your own family for weeks on end and breaks your heart many times over.
But courage can also mean getting out of bed this morning and putting one for in front of another in obedience in the face of gale-force trials and seemingly endless heavenly warfare. It can mean leaning hard into the courage and strength of God to enlarge your natural capacity to love and serve as He calls; trusting His manna to be enough for today; giving Him your granola bars and sardines to bless, break, multiply, and give away. It can mean being vulnerable about your pain and risking rejection, or saying, "I can't do this. Will You help me?"
Courage can mean loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. It can mean praying for years, for decades, until your last breath, for a prodigal's return from the far country. It can mean speaking uncomfortable truths and working for justice. It can mean forgiving those who wound you because Christ has forgiven you, and forgiving them whether they ever apologize or repent or not. It can mean dying to your own desires and preferences to love your spouse sacrificially and minister to their weakness.
Courage can mean surrendering a dream to the Lord, knowing that He can turn your circumstances upside-down to fulfill it in this life if He wishes, no matter how improbable that seems. It can mean letting go of a dream permanently for this life, knowing He can fulfill it when His eternal kingdom comes and time, resources, and capacity will not fail us. It can mean saying a risky "yes" to a door He has clearly opened, a calling with His fingerprints all over it, and it can mean saying a trusting "no" to what the world urges as a path to prosperity and happiness, for the sake of better and eternal values.
Courage has as many shades and hues as there are fingerprints. This week for me, courage requires going to a cancer-imaging appointment alone (but not alone, for He is with me) due to COVID restrictions. It means facing an hour in an uncomfortable position and getting an IV, which has often caused me problems in the past. It means the wait in uncertainty for an uncertain amount of time to know results, praying for no recurrence of breast cancer, praying the Lord would keep me on my feet, able to cook and help and drive myself to doctors. Maybe that doesn't seem like much to you, but it's a big enough challenge to this Very Small Animal that I know I need the Lord to show up and show off.
Consequently, I really appreciated K. J. Ramsay's recent Instagram post on courage, where she wrote, "Courage is not the absence of anxiety but the practice of trusting that we will be held and loved no matter what happens."
No matter what courage looks like for you today, dear Crumble, may you know the inpoured strength of Christ to move forward in obedience even if it scares you. May He supply every single need of yours, today and always, and encourage your courage with some small token that reminds you that He sees you, He is with you, He will not reject you, He will help you, and He will hold you up with His own powerful hand.
Courage, dear hearts.
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