Take Heart ~ Finding Courage Right Where You Are (Part 2

We Need YOUR Witness of Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

What you have is what someone else needs.

We have to go ahead and let this sink in, because it can be the first obstacle to living in courage.  I believed the lie that I couldn’t make a difference for so long ~ and it was a thief of my joy, of knowing my worth, of believing my life even mattered at all.  I was the one hiding from… well, from everything and everyone… so I know this feeling of helpless defeat.

But we are not meant for defeat.  We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11) We overcome with the truth of God’s Word, which tells us that we ~ all of us who have received God’s mercy ~ are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.1

You are the testimony of the mystery and miracle of living as a new creation in Christ.  And you have your own specific history with God.  Whatever you have been through, whatever your struggles or victories have been ~ it matters to somebody going through that same experience.  Comfort we have been given from God is the hope we can share with someone who needs it.

Sometimes it helps the truth to sink in when we say it out loud.  Go ahead ~  I’m saying this out loud, too, so we can feel awkward together.  Just SAY it.  “What I have is what someone else needs.”

Your unique spot on planet earth is yours alone.  The people you’ll meet, the family you have, the interests you hold, the hobbies you have, the shopping routines you carry out week after week ~ which means that the effect of your life is unique to who you are.

The collective group of Jesus-followers ~ the body of Christ ~ is made to work together.  Your passion is different than mine.  Your words will speak to someone in away that they can understand the message.  When we all give what God has given to
us, the world receives the hope it needs.  No one is left out and nothing is wasted.

So, yes, we need YOU.

You are called by God.  He has planned good works for you to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
You have purpose. Your choices matter. Your courage matters.

I know the struggle of believing what I’m doing is not “important” enough to make a difference.  But the priorities of the Kingdom of God look completely different than the priorities of our world.  Following Jesus means taking on a new perspective of other people, our goals, and even our dreams.

It isn’t my job to assign value to what God has asked of me; I can’t possibly know what eternal impact God will create with my obedience.  And the same goes for you.

But what happens when we don’t feel strong enough to show up?  What happens when we are scared?  Where do we turn when the daily pressure of life wears us down?

I wish that my answer to this was something cute and/or at least productive like knitting or cleaning my house or cooking.

But it’s actually television.

When I feel overwhelmed, when I’m avoiding big (or small projects), when I am actively stressed or hurting ~ I throw my attention to tv shows.  I can invest in fictional characters like they are my dearest friends.  I laugh, I cry, I want to know what happens next (even if it’s a show I’ve already seen every episode of 5 times), and there is comfort in hitting play and getting into a world that isn’t my own.  It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s safe.

In a balanced, healthy version of me, this is not a bad thing.  I love stories, so I naturally connect to characters and plots.  And if it’s just a matter of a bowl of popcorn and Netflix after a long day to unwind, that’s not a problem.  But when I am filling every bit of downtime and every silence with the voices of actors, it usually means I am actively avoiding something I should be facing.  And this doesn’t mean I’m on the couch, obviously in a spiral.  I have a husband, three kids, a puppy, and a job ~  so it’s sneakier than a weekend binge.  It’s my earbuds in, my phone in my pocket, and dialogue in my ears while I’m folding clothes, taking the dog on a walk, standing in a socially-distanced line at the grocery store.  I am actively blocking out any space for silence.

I am escaping into fiction, mentally retreating from being present in my own life.

Maybe I find momentary distraction like this, maybe I find some temporary relief, maybe even inspiration every now and then ~ but my screen is not where I can find actual strength.  It’s not even close to being a source of lasting comfort.

Maybe tv isn’t your distraction of choice, but do you recognize the symptoms?  Is there something you turn to when you feel like life is veering out of your control?

It’s important for us to recognize when we begin to misuse even the good things in life as solutions, because we only have so much attention and time.  So when we give it away to something that is not actually helping, we don’t turn to what will.  Paul says it like this in
1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any…  All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

But I’ve found, for me, that it can become really difficult to purposefully pull my focus from what feels easy and safe even as I KNOW that putting my attention fully on Jesus is the actual way I need to deal with whatever is happening in my life.

In John 5, there was a man with an infirmity (that had lasted for thirty-eight YEARS) who waited by the pool of healing every day without ever being able to make it into the water.

Jesus saw him there and, knowing how long the man had been in that unwell condition, asked “Do you want to be made well?”

There was a time when I didn’t fully understand why Jesus asked him this… but when I think of my own history ~ I get it.

Staying where I am, staying the same, sometimes finding identity in my weakness, digging into the pain and sorrow ~ there’s a gravity that pulls us down into this way of living.

Right now, in the atmosphere of this year ~ it is particularly easy to slide into hopelessness, to post meme after meme about the disaster of 2020, to settle into the despair of this year.  I am NOT saying that we should deny the grief and loss it has
brought to us ~ because very real hardship is here and we weep with those who weep,
we lament over this brokenness, over what has been lost ~ but we do not mourn as those without hope.

Living with hope, fighting fear, deciding to live in faith means willingness to change.  Change requires our participation, our active choices ~ and it is not always easy.  When we answer “Yes” ~ yes, we want to be well… yes, we want to live fully right where we are… yes, we want to be the person God created us to be…. we step into partnership with Jesus.2  He asks us to move, to choose His ideas over our own.

Healing has already been given to us, but like the man by the pool ~ we have to rise up and live in it.  We have to say yes to all Jesus wants to do in us.


{Editor’s note: see Part 3 of this series posted here on 10/5/20, God willing.}

1 2 Corinthians 5:20
2 Matthew 11:28-30

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