Tag Archives: enduring faith

Courage

Paul Harvey, loved for his heartwarming tales and unique style, told this story: “One summer morning as Ray Blankenship was preparing his breakfast, he gazed out the window, and saw a small girl being swept along in the rain-flooded drainage ditch beside his Andover, Ohio, home. Blankenship knew that farther downstream, the ditch disappeared with a roar underneath a road and then emptied into the main culvert. Ray dashed out the door and raced along the ditch, trying to get ahead of the floundering child. Then he hurled himself into the deep, churning water. Blankenship surfaced and was able to grab the child’s arm. They tumbled end over end. Within about three feet of the yawning culvert, Ray’s free hand felt something hard; possibly a rock protruding from one bank. He clung desperately, but the tremendous force of the water tried to tear him and the child away. ‘If I can just hang on until help comes,’ he thought. He did better than that. By the time fire-department rescuers arrived, Blankenship had pulled the girl to safety. Both were treated for shock. On April 12, 1989, Ray Blankenship was awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal. The award is fitting, for this selfless person was at even greater risk to himself than most people knew. Ray Blankenship can’t swim.”

This Sunday, the featured hymn was written by Lydia Baxter, a woman who was invalid for much of her life. “Take the Name of Jesus with You” is a testimony of courage in the face of suffering and difficulty. During the great Moody-Sankey evangelistic campaigns in the late 19th century, the song with lyrics by Lydia Baxter and tune by William Doane was popular with the great crowds.

The human condition is often one that affords us opportunity to rise above our circumstances. Paul wrote, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” The key is found in those two words: through Christ. The One who displayed the greatest courage in history offers His presence and power to us daily. When we appropriate what Christ gives, we can indeed take the name of Jesus wherever we go.

Is that right?

Next in our series, “My Story,” is the story of tragedy and triumph in the book of Ruth. The focal character is Naomi, a woman who suffered great loss but also experienced great gain. Her tale is real life … all of us are touched by pain and suffering. It is how we respond to those valleys that help define us. Naomi wanted to change her name to Mara, which means ‘bitter’ because she had lost so much. As the book of Ruth unfolds, we find that her bitterness will fade as she finds new reasons for hope and joy.

Not every story has a happy ending … at least from our view. Paul wrote to the Romans: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” 8:28). We know that everything that happens to us isn’t good, but can we believe that God can work and move and act in our circumstances for the ultimate good?

The book of Psalms contains the full gamut of human emotion. Glorious praise and flowing gratitude can be coupled with anguished pleading and grieving complaint. Psalm 13 begins with: “O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?”

Then the tone changes, much like Naomi’s did: “But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.”

So, which is it? We live long enough to realize it’s both. There are times when we cry out, when we raise our fist toward heaven and shake it. But there also times when we understand we are not forgotten or forsaken. God is still in control. God still loves us. God does indeed care. We matter to Him.

 

Naomi learned that. Her tears turned to laughter. Perhaps her laughter was sweeter because of the bitterness she endured. God makes a way for us.