The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful particle smasher and the largest machine on earth. Last Friday, a weasel wandered into a 66,000-volt transformer, causing a “severe electrical perturbation.” The collider will be shut down for several days. The weasel did not survive.
The previous Sunday, a man shot and killed a fellow worshiper after fighting over a seat in the church sanctuary. Last Friday, two teenage girls were launched off a carnival ride at a Texas fair; one of them was killed, while the other suffered minor injuries. The next day, a woman in Boston was struck and killed by an amphibious sightseeing vehicle known as a duck boat.
What has most surprised you lately? Was it something in the news? Something in your personal life? Unpredicted events are a symptom of the fact that we live on an unpredictable planet. From severe weather to previously-unknown diseases to fallen people who act like fallen people, we live in a world that requires courage.
Numbers chapter one tells us that the tribe of Dan was the largest in Israel. Yet its people were unable to take the land assigned them, retreating from one end of the Holy Land to the other in their search for security. As a result, their tribe was destroyed by the Assyrians when they invaded.
Psalm 118:24 contains a fact and a charge: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” If you remember the first, you will do the second.
There are times when God calls us to wait on him to act, as when the Jews marched around Jericho and the disciples prayed in Jerusalem for the Spirit to fall. But there are other times when God is waiting on us to act, as when Noah built the ark and Peter preached at Pentecost.
Solomon noted, “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). In other words, beware the paralysis of analysis.
If you’re in need of courage today, consider this promise: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23). And this assurance: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8).
In a day of cultural and moral decay, it’s more tempting than ever to retreat into places that seem safe. But every impulse of the Christian movement is missionary: “Go therefore and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19); “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11–18) has no covering for the back. We are protected when we advance, not when we retreat.
Pastors and other believers who boldly engage the culture with biblical truth and grace are the heroes of our day. Let’s pray for such courage, right now.