I didn’t like being sent to the principal’s office as a kid. I don’t like being sent to the doctor’s office as a patient. But I went in, took a seat, and quickly noticed the doctor’s abundant harvest of diplomas. They were everywhere, from everywhere. One degree from the university. Another degree from a residency. The third degree from his wife. (I’m pausing to see if you caught the joke . . . ) The more I looked at his accomplishments, the better I felt. I’m in good hands. About the time I leaned back in the chair to relax, his nurse entered and handed me a sheet of paper. “The doctor will be in shortly,” she explained. “In the meantime he wants you to acquaint yourself with this information. It summarizes your heart condition.”
I lowered my gaze from the diplomas to the summary of the disorder. As I read, contrary winds began to blow. Unwelcome words like atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, embolic stroke, and blood clot caused me to sink into my own Sea of Galilee.
What happened to my peace? I was feeling much better a moment ago. So I changed strategies. I counteracted diagnosis with diplomas. In between paragraphs of bad news, I looked at the wall for reminders of good news. That’s what God wants us to do.
His call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance. We aren’t to be oblivious to the overwhelming challenges that life brings. We’re to counterbalance them with long looks at God’s accomplishments. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1 NASB). Do whatever it takes to keep your gaze on Jesus.
When a friend of mine spent several days in the hospital at the bedside of her husband, she relied on hymns to keep her spirits up. Every few minutes she stepped into the restroom and sang a few verses of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Do likewise! Memorize scripture. Read biographies of great lives. Ponder the testimonies of faithful Christians. Make the deliberate decision to set your hope on him. Courage is always a possibility. C.S. Lewis wrote a great paragraph on this thought:
Faith . . . is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. . . . That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.
Feed your fears, and your faith will starve.
Feed your faith, and your fears will.
Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).
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