Of Courage and Contemplation

Today is Saturday, the first of October, 2022, in the twenty-sixth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,578


Lord our God, we thank you for your gospel, the great, good tidings we may carry in our hearts to give us joy in this present time, even though on all sides people are in anguish and agony. We thank you that your gospel fills our hearts with compassion, enabling us to help carry what many have to suffer. Show us our need of you so that we can receive your help. If we must be the first to suffer all kinds of pain and distress, may we do so joyfully because we have been promised blessing in the midst of all the pain. May we continually honor your name, praising you for the good news of your kingdom, for the promise that everything must work together for good through Jesus Christ the Savior. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. . . . Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 
(Romans 12:12, 15 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the compassion with which it fills my heart
  2. that all things work together for good through Jesus Christ
  3. for the privilege and ability to simply sit and contemplate our God
  4. that all of humanity is created in the image of God
  5. for the strength that God gives, the courage to go on when we are afraid

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
(Romans 14:8-9 ESV)

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
(Revelation 1:3 ESV)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! 
Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." 
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 
before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalms 96:1-13 ESV)

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
(Psalms 31:24 ESV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV)

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
(Matthew 14:27 ESV)

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.
(Frederick William Faber)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

What is courage? The word is mentioned a few times in Scripture. First, I will tell you what it is not. It is not the absence of fear. That is a false belief that comes from toxic masculinity. There are a lot of guys out there who think that doing something “manly” (aka, “stupid”) makes them courageous.

Courage, though, is the ability to do something that frightens you. It is also “strength in the face of pain or grief.” It is not the absence of these things. It is the ability to move forward in spite of them.

It takes courage to follow Jesus, especially in these times. But Jesus speaks peace to us, just as He did to His disciples when He met them on the water. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

We’ve noted, multiple times, that the command “fear not,” along with its variations, is the most often repeated command in the Bible. My opinion is that, if I weren’t already afraid, Jesus wouldn’t have to say that to me. To me, it’s more of an encouragement than a command. I don’t think He is saying “fear not” as a directive, as much as He is saying, “Hey. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

One of the best ways to embrace this idea is through meditation and contemplation. Now, those are two entirely different things (and those who are more of the “fundamentalist” persuasion really detest those words, for reasons I will never quite understand). Meditation involves a sort of “chewing” on passages of Scripture, while contemplation is pretty much what that little poem up there says. “Sit and think of God;” “To think the thought, to breathe the Name.”

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is simply sit and breathe the name, “Jesus,” over and over. I can tell you from experience (scoff if you want) that it helps; it is good for the soul. Faber isn’t far off when he says, “Earth has no higher bliss.”

Here’s the rest of that poem:

I love Thee so, I know not how

My transports to control;

Thy love is like a burning fire

Within my very soul.

Father of Jesus, love’s reward!

What rapture will it be,

Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,

And gaze and gaze on Thee!

O Spirit, beautiful and dread!

My heart is fit to break

With love of all Thy tenderness

For us poor sinners’ sake

Father, I know the joy, the bliss, of simply sitting and thinking of You, thinking thoughts of You and breathing the Name of Jesus. What strength, what courage, can be supplied by doing so. I thank You for this privilege, this ability. I praise You that, in Your divine omniscience, You ordained that I should be introduced to these things in my life.

I thank You, also, for the confidence that comes from knowing that we have been created in Your image. I don’t fully understand what that means, since You don’t have an “image,” exactly. Perhaps “likeness” would be a better word. I pray that, as I grow in You, I would become more like You. And, as I become more like You, may I more and more heed the common words in Scripture, “do not be afraid.”

I am moved, this morning, by the words from Romans 14, Lord. Whatever I do, be it living or dying, I belong to You. I am Yours, Father, to do with as You will. I simply pray for the courage to walk in the way in which You direct me.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!

Things We Know, by Daryl Madden

Let’s make a list
Of the things we know
Starting with how much
Our God loves us so

We have a purpose
There’s nothing to fear
We always belong
And God always here

His mercy never ends
Forgiveness of our sins
He prepares our way
Before each day begins

No matter of the form
When we say a prayer
Something of beyond
Is happening right here

Just how we are blessed
Showered by His grace
To receive and share
Our joy to embrace

Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poetry at the link provided above.

Grace and peace, friends.