Fearful Courage

 I know fear.  Low-grade or full-blown anxiety.  Fretful worry. Recently I cleared out a stash of papers from 2006, the year my wife Caryl was on dialysis.  Reviewing the list of multiple doctor visits, hospitalizations, and medications surfaced intense feelings deeply buried in my psyche.  The fear, the anxiety became my unwelcome companions again for a while.

William Cowper, a well-known 18th century poet, knew fear as well. He periodically suffered several nervous breakdowns due to ravages of severe depression.  One such episode led him to seek to drown himself in a river.  Taking a horse-drawn carriage in Olney, England, the taxi driver surmised Cowper’s suicidal mindset and feigned getting lost in the fog.  Cowper eventually fell asleep.  Many hours later he was delivered back home.

Refreshed, he took his spared life as a gift, a sign from God.  And that led to the writing of the hymn still sung today:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.

(from “God Moves in a Mysterious Way)

Similarly, Scripture is replete with this divine message:  “Fear not.”  More than 80 times we hear “Be not afraid.”  Rabbi Jesus brings this assuring message from God’s lips:

Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends. The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. (Luke 12:32, The Message)

 Jesus is a clear-eyed realist, knowing that fear can serve us well in emergencies.  Fear forces us to problem solve quickly, to consider what resources we have to survive danger.  Subsequently, though, previous traumas we’ve experienced can, if unacknowledged, continue to revisit us often.

Ongoing fear cripples us. Projecting unknown possible catastrophes that rarely happen is energy depleting.  Such fear robs us of the precious present.  Fear kills our creative spirit full of gratitude for our blessings.  Fear fades as we remember to embrace the full gifts of God’s grace and mercy in the scariest of places.

Mark Twain knew hardship and tragedy.  His personal response was this jewel:  “Courage is not the absence of fear…it is the ability to act in the presence of fear.”

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Human Tears Are Older Than The Rain

two cozy cups

The Hidden Face of God – Finding the missing door to the father through lament

Author: Michael Card

If you think about it, teardrops and raindrops have a lot in common. The rain occurs when the clouds become oversaturated, usually in association with a change in pressure in the atmosphere. Tears occur when our souls become oversaturated with pan or joy. Somewhere inwardly, a pressure builds up, which is only released when our tears start to flow. Even as the ground is watered and nourished by the drops of rain, so it is time for us to wake up to the nourishment and healing power of tears. Those small salty drops that burn our eyes are as fundamental to life as food an air. They are a mystery that cannot be explained away.

Most of us do our best to hide our tears. We try to hold back the pressure when we sense it building in our hearts. We mistakenly believe that if we can control our tears then we can control the pain.

Jesus seems never to have done this. He is so exquisitely turned to His soul that whenever suffering appeared, His own or anyone else’s, Jesus wept. His tears come freely when He arrives on the scene of the death of His close friend Lazarus. This was not a weakness but one of His greatest strengths (John 11:35).

He weeps when He sees Jerusalem, knowing the extent of the destruction that is just around the corner (Luke 19:41)

He weeps for sorrow in the garden, confessing to His disciples that the sorrow is about to kill Him (Mark 14:34)

Jesus was no stranger to the mystery of tears. He never once hid his face when it ws wet with them. If He was to be fully human, then tears had to be a fundamental part of the incarnate experience for Him. Like you and me, the first sound Jesus made to show that He was alive was the sound of weeping.

And so, from Jesus we learn that in order for us to become complete, to become fully human, we must take tears more seriously. We must understand that following Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, will mean more tears for us, not less. Perhaps we should be reminded of all this every time we sense the pressure changing and experience the “tears of the sky,” realizing all along that our own tears are older and more fundamental.

God Often Speaks Through Silence


Author and Narrator – Jesse Stroup, Director of Spiritual Care – Dallas



Descent Into Darkness


Descent Into Darkness – Summary

Author and Narrator – David Martin, D.Min., Director of Spiritual Care – Tarrant County

Learning From Doris


Learning From Doris – I was impressed at her wit, her wisdom, and her deep love and compassion for other people, even those of other lands and cultures not her own. I was captivated by her desire to tell the stories of the plight of others, completely unconcerned about her own condition and health. I was taught not to see the disease, but the person, and to be focused on the moment. Listen and enjoy…


Author/Narrator: Dr. Tom Nuckels, Director of Spirtitual Care – Central Texas

Saying Goodbye…

Saying Goodbye Podcast – A story of family members and caregivers withdraw life support and saying their good byes. The grieving process is appsomber hospital roomarently difficult when observing the family overcome shock, watching them weep, listening to supportive conversation and discussion of details such as funeral arrangement, hearing them reminisce about the decease and finally come to a more relaxed state. Being present during this process to provide spiritual support through prayer, listening, and a comforting presence can be a blessing chaplains and volunteers meanwhile extremely emotional. Lifeline Chaplaincy’s ministry is a vital one and we thank our supporters for being a part of it.

Author/Narrator: Dr. Paul Riddle, Director of Spirtitual Care – Houston