Win Today with Christopher Cook

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When Your Heart Fails, Get Back to Courage

Getting back in courage after disappointment isn’t a flip-of-a-switch event, either. Instead, like a tension-loaded crossbow, getting into courage is an intentional, well-calculated, deep-seated, and committed posture of the heart.

I think most of us are realistic enough to know that life is definitely not a constant high. In fact, I’m certain that we all have times of deep discouragement where our hearts fail and our courage takes a nosedive. Of note, a recent study has declared that nearly three million Americans consider themselves completely hopeless. It’s in those moments that we have to be honest enough to face reality, humble enough to seek help, and determined enough to not quit before the final bell rings. Getting back in courage after disappointment isn’t a flip-of-a-switch event, either. Instead, like a tension-loaded crossbow, getting into courage is an intentional, well-calculated, deep-seated, and committed posture of the heart.

Enter Irena Sandler.

Glass Jars and Burlap Sacks

While there are multitudes of stories displaying incredible heroism during the Holocaust, few standout as boldly as that of Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who also served as a nurse. When the Nazis invaded Poland and quarantined the Jews, Sendler knew what horror was about to unfold and decided to act in courage by sneaking food and medicine into the Jewish prisoners.

However, what she snuck out was even more incredible: nearly 2,500 children. Whether sedated and placed in the bottom of toolboxes or lying in burlap sacks at the bottom of her truck, Ms. Sendler transferred the children to Christian orphanages where they were given new names (for security purposes). Incidentally, she kept the children’s real names buried in a glass jar in her yard. Talk about courage!

Ms. Sendler was eventually found-out by the Nazis, who quickly imprisoned and tortured her, breaking both of her legs. Though her legs were broken, her resilience was not. Upon the war’s end, she devoted her life to reuniting the children with their families, though the task was almost impossible because of the murder of so many lives.

Getting Back Into Courage

Throughout her journey, I’m certain that Irena Sandler’s heart failed and her courage waned. Yet, there was a bounce-back in her spirit that kept her on the rebound—a bounce-back that should inspire you and me to get back to courage whenever our hearts fail us. Will you or I ever have to hurdle the danger and enormity of life-threatening circumstances Ms. Sandler faced? Probably not. But it doesn’t mean your (or my) discouragement is unwarranted. Instead, we, like Irena Sandler, must bolster our spirit to sustain us in adversity.

Truth that Cuts through the Trial

Discouragement clouds our perception of…everything: our relationships, our job, our emotional well-being, and even our personal sense of purpose. It’s precisely why we need a strong dose of truth to provide perspective and empowerment in the midst of the storm.

Enter the Truth.

In the Old Testament book of Joshua, chapter one, the Children of Israel were facing some major hurdles on the way to entering their Promised Land. To boot, their leader, Moses, had just died. The new leader—a deliverer in his own right, Joshua—received his marching orders, not once, not even twice, but three times: “be strong and confident and courageous…only be strong and very courageous…be strong and courageous.” The Lord continued, “Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Pause.

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone in which you were expressing your angst, worry, or unsettledness, only to have them respond, “Don’t worry.” I see your heads nodding. My response, like yours, has certainly been, “Don’t tell me how to feel!”

But that’s kind of what happened in Joshua 1. And just in case you thought that was a one-time incident in the Old Testament, have a look at what Jesus told His disciples in John 14: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]”

“Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed.” Yeah, okay.

But the truth is that the Truth cuts through the trial and makes a way for you and me to overcome.

You see, anytime God delivers a command (like the two examples we read above), the empowerment to fulfill the command is released to us if we are willing and bold enough to receive. And so the choice is ours: will we believe Truth and act accordingly or shrink back in fear because of our present circumstances?

Running Into Life

Do you want to know what happens when you position yourself to get back into courage even after your heart has failed you? You’ll run straight into life, not away from it. Isaiah 40:29-31 assures us of that fact:

“He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”

It’s not your strength. Nor is it your own willpower. Heck no. Stop trying to make it happen by yourself. But it is your expectation in the faithfulness of our God Who is all-powerful and all-faithful.

Getting Practical

Getting back into courage takes some honest self-assessment and adjustment along the way, too. Start with these four keys:

  1. Getting in courage is an inside job. Courage (and encouragement) won’t arrive when your circumstances change. Just as we learned from Joshua 1 and John 14, truth often collides with chaos, and seemingly impossible circumstances are often preceded by God’s promise, “I will be with you.” Bolster yourself in truth and go forward even when you’re afraid.
  2. Don’t give yourself too much credit. You need others. Whose voice is speaking encouragement into your life?
  3. Don’t give your emotions the steering wheel of your life. Up one day, down the next. Anchor yourself upon the Word for daily sustenance and emotional stability.
  4. Perform a Self-Checkup. Are you tired? Lonely? Disappointed? Fearful? Be honest about where you are today so you can move forward with a game-plan for growth and success.

A New Year or Just Another Year?

On January 5, I wrote a blog post in which I asked, “Will this be a new year or simply another year?” And as much as the question was posed to my readers, it was aimed right at myself. But you know what? Despite best efforts, a lot of great intention, and focused energy, the first six months of 2015 were incredibly discouraging. Actually, they sucked. But you what? Everyday I had a choice to employ the truth and strategies I articulated. Everyday, I have a choice to partner with Truth and keep going.

And so do you. Now tell me how I can encourage you in the comment section below…

  • dennis marshall

    I couldn’t agree more brother. My best wishes in your new endeavors. You have been a good brother in Christ for me and I am glad he had you cross my path. Early Birthday Wishes as well.