By Jaime Sherman
I typically awake on a Monday morning with a slight grumble that the weekend is no more but with a sense of eager anticipation for what the week will bring. However, this week was different. No alarm signaled the sunrise, for I awoke at 2:30 with a disquieted heart.
As I tried and failed to sleep again, I blamed my restlessness on a new medication to combat a nasty virus, but as I started praying, I realized I’ve grown fearful of life outside the walls of my home and of what the next turn of the calendar page will bring for me and my family.
The tears, so long dammed up by a stubborn, I-can-face-anything shell, started flowing. I counted back an entire month since a nasty, unknown virus started its creeping march through my body. A delayed grief welled up in me as I realized that my husband could have — still could — land in the hospital fighting for his life again. Overwhelmed I clung to God’s perfect plan, one I cannot see but a glimpse of, but one that I fully trust. He has faithfully brought us through the flood waters year after year, and yet, I admit in the wee hours that am still afraid.
And I declare that for as long as the enemy of my soul tries to take my eyes off my God, I will pray. My words will be raw, and sometimes they won’t be words at all but a gasping cry from my heart as tears drip down to soak my pillow.
God, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of going out in the world again. I’m afraid of us getting sick again. I’m afraid of the next hard thing You’ll allow into our lives. And whose idea was it anyway that my word for the year should be Courage? Why courage? Why couldn’t I have picked something fluffy and light? But I know, God, You are teaching me something. You are allowing circumstances into my life and into the lives of those I love because You have a grand story for our ultimate good and Your eternal glory. Help me trust You.
Dear Reader, if you know me at all, you know I love words, and so when I type a title like “Courage, Part 3,” I automatically look up the word courage. I find its definition (strength in the face of pain or grief), its origin (from the Old English corage, which came from the Latin cor, meaning heart, the seat of feelings), and its synonyms and antonyms. In the list of words, I realize that the world sees courage as a pull-up-the-boot-straps-type of personal ability to overcome an obstacle, to face danger, or to move from fear to confidence. But the courage I’ve been clinging to this year comes by the strength the Lord alone provides as He stands fixed beside me, His Spirit working in and through me. I cannot and will not live a life of true courage apart from my God, the strength of my life.
In times like these when I make plans only to watch them postponed or canceled, when I fear that someone I love will become a casualty of this pandemic, when I wonder how much more chaos I can take, I turn to the Psalms and read the key verses for my year:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way… (46:1-2).
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns… (46:5).
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (46:10).
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (46:11).
When morning dawns and I have poured out my heart to the Lord, when I have allowed His old words to bring me new comfort, I don’t feel quite so afraid anymore. He is my courage as I turn the calendar page and await what He has next for me and my family, for He is with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9). I declare from today’s Psalm, I will not be afraid of bad news; my heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. My heart is steady; I will not be afraid because He is my delight (112:7-8).