I have been working on a different post for about a week and a half and should probably be posting it tonight, but something else is on my mind. This will be short and sweet because it’s late and morning comes very early, but I think it’s worth addressing even if just a little for now. Here’s the thing, no matter how much we want to be relevant in the lives of others, no matter how much we want to behave ourselves in a chivalrous manner, sometimes—
We just don’t feel courageous.
And that lack of feeling courage brings the complete opposite feeling: dis-courage-ment. I know because I’ve been there. I was there tonight. So, what do you do when you don’t feel courageous? Well, first of all remember that courage isn’t necessarily a feeling, at least, not the one you expect it to be. Courage is more about knowing what you’re going to do is right than about knowing you can do it.
It’s also important to learn to recognize the source of discouragement. We’ll get into this a lot deeper in some later blogs, but tonight I want to mention one: Fatigue. I would call it Battle Fatigue, but that has other connotations. Still, the truth of the matter is that when our courage is tested for a drawn out period of time, it can be exhausting. Even the best soldiers, the most well-trained and athletically fit warriors, even they need rest.
One of the most encouraging moments of the Old Testament, in my mind, comes from the story of Gideon. Gideon and his tiny army were in hot pursuit of the enemy kings. They had been going and going and going without food or water to bolster their energy, let alone rest. In Judges chapter eight, it says that they crossed the Jordan River and were “faint, yet pursuing them.” To me this is an amazing picture of their courage and commitment, but it is also a picture of their humanity. There was nothing super-human about them. The battle and the ensuing pursuit had exhausted them.
Tonight, after a long, stressful day at work, I came home, ate supper, and then sat down to work on something that needed to be done for someone else by tomorrow. It took me all evening, and by the time I was done, I wasn’t sure I was even thinking straight. Then, I lost something. I had just had it my hand a moment before, and it was suddenly gone. (Don’t tell my you’ve never done that. I know you have.) I started getting frantic. I couldn’t lose it. I had to have it to finish things. Then I started to feel that I-can’t-do-this feeling creep into my heart. All of the battles that have been raging seemed to tower over me, even though I was facing none of them in that moment. I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk away from them all because I was sure I was going to mess them all up, just like this thing I was working on. Then suddenly, I caught a glimpse of where I was. This was not a moment of failure. This was not a moment that proved I had no courage. This was a moment of exhaustion. I set everything aside, even though I hadn’t found what I was looking for, put things away, and went to make one last cup of tea for the evening. That thing which was lost, will most likely be found very quickly when I have had the time to rest my mind, body, and emotions. The time had simply come to step out of the battle.
Sometimes, we just have to keep going, but sometimes we need to rest; and sometimes, or maybe always, we need a little of both. Even when Gideon’s army was tired they went on, but I don’t think they went in their own strength. I believe it was God who gave them the strength to pursue and overtake their enemies. What an en-courage-ment it is to know that we have that same source of strength. Two verses of Scripture come to my mind as I consider this, both are favorites. In Psalm 29:11, God promises to give His people both strength and peace. In Isaiah 40:31, He promises to renew the strength of those that wait upon Him. Sometimes, in the midst of our many battles when we don’t feel so courageous, we just need to rest, to wait on Him to give us the strength for the next fight, and to let Him bathe us in His peace.
Rest well, friends, and rest in the Lord.