Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
This verse instructs us to be strong, but how can we do that when we feel so weak at times? Do we rely on our own devices and try to pull ourselves up by our bootstrings? We all know that when we are feeling overwhelmed, the last thing we want to do is push through. More likely we feel like crawling into a hole to hibernate. There is a way out when we put our hope in God.
When my son died, I felt like I had to be strong for the rest of the family, but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. Because my hope is in God I looked to Him for the strength I needed right from the start. Using the Psalms as a guide I would pray, including lament, and I would often write a poem or prayer as part of my devotion time.
Keeping my focus on God, knowing that He loves me gave great comfort. It did not take away the hole in my heart or the sadness of losing my son. That grief will always be with me, but knowing God is also with me gives me strength to continue down the path He leads.
What is courage and how can I be courageous? According to Merriam-Webster the full definition of courage is:
- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
That is a good definition, but it leaves out the possibility that we might be in a situation where we cannot muster up the strength within ourselves. That’s where I remind myself that God is my strength and He will give me courage.
There are many situations where we are called upon to have courage. Sometimes courage is needed, not because there is danger, but because we need to confront someone not knowing how they will react. It could be a fear of hurting them with our words or that they might misunderstand. Often we would rather avoid conflict even when we know that facing it and talking it out could lead to a resolution.
I have had some difficult conversations with some of my kids, knowing that we would disagree. Each time God has enabled me to speak from my heart and also listen to them. Sometimes we shed tears, but facing the difficulty brought us closer to each other in love. Proverbs 10:12 in the amplified version reads like this:
Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers and overwhelms all transgressions [forgiving and overlooking another’s faults].
This passage is also quoted in 1 Peter: 4:8, which affirms how we must love each other:
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.
HOPE IN GOD
When we put our hope in God, He enables us to be strong and courageous. Even when we are weak, afraid and overwhelmed we can have peace and joy. We cannot manufacture it on our own. Oh, we can try, but sooner or later our strength will fail and we will feel defeated. Only when we put our hope in God, trusting in His faithful word, can we continue to be strong and courageous.
He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 CSB
This song by Michael Card brings out the truth of the Isaiah passage:
JOURNAL PAGE OF HOPE
My latest journal page includes the verse I used at the beginning of this post. There are mostly winter scenes and even a family of bears. To me they represent the winters of life and the times of fear and uncertainty that we all face. Also, the mother bear reminds me of the instinctive courage we mothers have to protect our children. Over it all is the reminder that God is our hope and strength and will give us courage.
Maybe you have a hard task to tackle or have received an unwanted diagnosis. Maybe you need to have a hard conversation or maybe you are just plain tired. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lacking strength and courage, I urge you to turn to God. Spend some time in prayer and in His word, and He will renew your strength. Your circumstances may not change, but God will go with you through them.
I’m linking up with: #InspireMeMonday