UO Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart. Psalm 10:17
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
I’ve never watched the movie Braveheart. I hear it’s really good. But I began watching it when it got to a particularly gruesome scene and I had to turn it off. I have no stomach for such intense portrayals of suffering and anguish. As I understand the movie, however, it is about men (and women?) who are strong of heart – even in the face of intense persecution and opposition.
The problem with life, however, is that there are a million ways that opposition and persecution comes our way, and not all of them are so obvious or direct. The devil seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants nothing more than to take us away from Jesus and the life and salvation he offers. The world also conspires against faithful people. Who hasn’t seen the success of the godless, their opulent and glamorous lifestyles, and wondered why they have all the fun?
Our flesh joins these two enemies of faith, life, and hope, forming an unholy trinity of deceit, despair, and doom. We lose heart. We fail to stay strong at heart. Too many times we are not even aware that we have given in. We miss seeing the places and opportunities that God provides for us to be strong in heart.
When we realize this, however, God’s mercy comes to us and lifts us to a new and higher awareness of the hope we have. We see more clearly his goodness toward us and all people, and the clarity of our calling to stay strong in the faith.
This is never something we do by ourselves. We cannot hike up our pants and enter the battle against sin, satan, and temptation in our own strength. Look at Acts 19:11-16 and the account of Sceva’s seven sons who try to take on one of Satan’s minions. They leave the encounter wounded and bleeding!
Perhaps you need to do a brave thing. It might be speaking a hard word of truth (in love) to someone near to your heart. It could be resisting temptation that has come calling so many times that it has worn a rut through your heart. You may really want to share the Gospel with someone but fear any number of things – from rejection, to the loss of the friendship, to being considered a fool.
When we face these moments in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus, God shows up. When we acknowledge our desperate need for God’s grace and mercy, help and boldness, we are most ready to see his glory shine through us. It may never be a Braveheart moment – in the sense of the movie. But it may be a brave heart moment of God’s strength, courage, and confidence for his glory and our good.