I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Be strong and take heart, and have no fear of them: for it is the Lord your God who is going with you; he will not take away his help from you.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
It's one of my favorite phrases in the Bible, but sometimes I have struggled to understand it. What does it really mean? How can I lay hold of something that feels far away at times? What does taking heart practically look like? And still, I have been desperate to take heart in times of trouble, pain, or confusion.
The Lord has been bringing my attention to this phrase again and again over the past week or so. I've had conversations with friends who are grasping for answers or searching for hope and while we are talking, I hear the voice of the Lord whisper to my own heart, "Take heart." I feel courage well up in me as Lucy did when Aslan whispered to her, "Courage, dear heart," in Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia). Their ship is heading into the dark, deep, misty clouds and the whole crew is filled with fear. That is when Lucy smells the fragrance of Aslan's breath and hears him whisper, "Courage, dear heart." She can't see him, but she knows his scent and his voice. She knows he is near.
In order to smell the sweetness of someone's breath, we have to be incredibly close. To hear a whisper, we have to almost feel the whisperer's lips brush against our own ear. As I write this, I keep thinking, "Am I that close to the Lord? In my own times of trouble and fear, am I close enough to be aware of the presence of the Lord? To hear his quiet whisper? To feel his breath on my skin? To smell the fragrance of God?"
Keep that in mind as we dive into "take heart" throughout the Bible.
What does it take to "take heart"? How do we quit waiting for courage to come upon us and instead reach out and take hold of courage? Take hold of heart?
In order to take heart, to not lose heart, we have to stay soft towards the Lord. We have to keep fighting. We have to be interested, enthusiastic, and concerned about the things of God and the Lord himself.
When we let heartache, pain, anger, frustration, discouragement, or even busyness surround us and begin to drown out the voice of God, dampen our zeal for him or even crush us under its weight, we can become apathetic. It’s easier to numb ourselves, isn't it? It is so much easier to quit hoping, then we won’t be so disappointed when it doesn’t work out. It's easier to become disinterested because then we can’t be discouraged. It's easier to lose our enthusiasm so we don’t look foolish when things fall apart. It's easier to lose our concern, to quit caring so much, to stop paying attention to what God is saying or calling us to so it doesn’t hurt when it’s so hard. Maybe we even quit caring for His bride, the Church, or the people of God so they can’t harm us.
But sweet friends, notice in these passages, along with “take heart” He says that trouble will come, but in HIM we have peace. It doesn't say in the world we have peace. It's not in things going our way, nor in everything working out the way we plan or hope. We can have peace when our marriage is falling apart, when we are experiencing financial ruin, when our health is failing, and when our children lose their way. We have peace when we find ourselves IN the Lord Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace. We don’t need our life’s circumstances to be peaceful in order to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. His peace will guard our hearts and minds. His peace will make us whole. His peace will protect us.
It also says to wait for the Lord. The waiting is the hardest part for me. It has been hard my whole life; waiting for my first kiss, waiting for my college acceptance letter, waiting for a proposal, waiting to get pregnant, waiting for opportunities to come knocking, waiting for God to move me to the next thing, waiting for stability, waiting for new friendships to be forged, waiting for healing, waiting, waiting, waiting. And I haven’t always waited with patience. I often remind my children that patience is “waiting without whining.” That is something I have to remind myself too. The Lord wants to develop patience in me through my long-suffering. He doesn't want me to just learn to suffer for extended periods of time, but He wants me to learn to wait for the Lord to do what he has promised to do - without complaining or whining because he isn’t moving at my preferred speed or in my preferred fashion.
Part of taking heart is waiting for the Lord - expecting him to come through - and when I have that sincere expectation and the real, true belief down in my bones that he will come through in his perfect timing, I can wait without whining.
The last thing I want to touch on is the phrase “all you who hope in the LORD” in Psalm 31. It can be so easy to lose hope - a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. I had a friend say something to me the other day that hit home for me, “I’m afraid to hope.” Have you ever felt afraid to hope for something? Afraid to hope that a problem would meet the solution. Afraid to hope that things would work out for the best? Afraid to hope that someone in your life would come to their senses?
Afraid to hope for a miracle?
Hoping for those things is scary - and rightly so. Those things will always fail us. People fail us. Problems may go away for a time, but new ones crop up. Things don’t always work out the way we want them to. Some people never come to their senses. Sometimes God says no to the miracle we are praying for. Does that mean we should shy away from hope?
It means we need to stop putting our hope in what God can do and start putting our hope solely in God. We don’t need answers. We don’t need solutions. We don’t need miracles. We need the presence of God. Oftentimes those answers, solutions, and miracles come along with His presence, but even if He doesn’t bring those with Him, His very nearness is enough, sweet friend. His very nearness is enough.
Being near to God, we can have peace when everything fails. We can have comfort when our life is so disturbed. We can rest in Him when we are surrounded by chaos. His presence is all we truly need.
HE is our light in the dark. HE is our comfort in pain. HE is our peace in the storm. HE is our friend when we are alone. HE is trustworthy when we are betrayed. HE is near when others are far. HE is everything when we have nothing. HE is our fill when we are so empty. HE is our life when we are close to death. HE is our hope when we are facing despair.
We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone.
Psalm 33: 20 - 22
He is enough.
So courage, dear heart. Don’t lose heart, sweet friend. Grab it with both arms around the waist and hang on for dear life. Don’t let hope slip away. Take heart! He has overcome what you are facing. And there is grace enough for you and what you are facing today. You can be filled with HOPE that his very presence is enough to see you through.
Remind yourself: When I am facing fear and trouble, pull in close enough to the Lord to hear his whisper, feel his lips brush against my ear, and smell the fragrance of his breath.
Take heart, dear heart.
I wrote a song years ago that has been ringing in my mind and heart for a few days now. I wrote this song when I was going through a bipolar episode and was struggling to hang on. I was struggling to trust God to see me through. I was struggling with a will to keep living. It was a terrible time in my life and I really don’t like to go back there in my mind, but I think the Lord is bringing me back there - not to revisit past pain and sin - but to offer hope and maybe even an anthem to those suffering right now… If his presence is enough for me, it is enough for you.
This valley that’s in front of me
Feels so dark and lonely
Open up my eyes to see
Just where you’re leading
And Even if you don’t
Even if your answer is no
In your grace I’ll boast
And I will ever trust you
When I’m looking for answer
And when I’m grasping in the dark
When the truth is all I’m after
Please speak to my heart
And Even if you don’t
Even if your answer is no
In your grace I’ll boast
And I will ever trust you
‘Cause in the darkest night you’re bursting forth with light
Your hand of rescue comes we will ever trust you
Your voice breaks through the cloud
Your love comes crashing down
Our hearts are bursting now we will ever trust you
I'm praying for you today, sweet sister, that whatever you're facing, you would be so buried in the Lord that you hear his whisper, feel his lips brush against your ears, and smell the fragrance of his breath surrounding you. That you could face your fear and trouble filled with hope in the Lord alone and peace that only comes when we are IN Christ Jesus. It would be such an honor to pray for you specifically. Feel free to email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to us on our Instagram or FB page.
Written By: Lyndsay Terry
For more from Lyndsay, visit her website: www.lyndsayterry.com
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