“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; God will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Remember the lion in the movie The Wonderful Wizard of Oz…he came to the wizard asking for courage. He was ashamed that he was not brave enough to live up to the expectation that as a lion he was to be the King of the Beasts. Eventually the lion discovers that he always had what he was looking for and his courage was drawn out of him in community with his companions, the Tinman, the Scarecrow and Dorothy, who served as mentors and encouragers for him.
Life is so often uncertain and can be scary and frightening. The stresses and challenges of daily life take a lot of courage and then when big things happen like a pandemic, a job loss, an illness, the death of a loved one, or ongoing division and injustice; we realize how much courage we really do need, but also how much courage we have within us.
The courage within us comes from our faith and can be realized by journeying through life with mentors and encouragers. Our courage can also be strengthened by holding to the promise that God is with us. Just as God told Moses, who then told his successor Joshua, who would lead the people into the promised land, “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” That promise is true for us as well…God is with us and God calls us to be strong and courageous because of that presence.
In our United Methodist Hymnal, there is a prayer For Courage to Do Justice. It is #456 in the hymnal. It says:
“O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others;
open my ears that I may hear their cries;
open my heart so that they need not be without assistance;
let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears
that I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen.”
I invite you to read this prayer at the beginning of the day as a source of courage and strength. Then hold to the Scripture to, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; God will never leave you nor forsake you.”