Florence Congregational Church
Monday, May 28, 2018
A Place to Connect

Pastor Irv’s Corner - February 2014

 

February is the month of “hearts,” Valentine’s Day.  It is the month in which many share “I love you’s” in long distant calls, Valentine chocolate sweets and fragrant red roses.  Special cards are sent and received with little red hearts speaking a message of love.  And, I know a couple instances of gifts of Valentine lobsters.  These messages and symbols of love lead me consider one of the characteristics of the heart-courage.

I have experienced and shared with many people of courageous hearts over the years while visiting members and friends of the church at Cooley Dickenson and local nursing/ rehab centers in the Northampton area.  Patients have voiced their anxiety over their illnesses and fears of the unknown.  Visitors likewise have spouted their frustration and helplessness to alter life’s course. 

And yet, even in the fear and anxiety I continue to see immense courage.  One woman of 88 in recovery from a hip replacement told me she was eager to begin therapy.  She has places to be, things to do and people dependent on her.   I discovered the courage of another woman preparing to take care of her husband who has become disabled.  I have felt this courage of another who was in a terrible accident with a broken hip.  She eagerly anticipated recovery and the opportunity to return to college to continue preparing for a teaching career.  I have known this courage in a man with a serious illness with no known cure – a man who has a smile and words of encouragement for all his visitors and attending staff.

Courage does not mean just gritting our teeth for enduring life’s struggles.  Courage means drawing upon an inner source, relying on the Lord’s love, strength and wisdom to give us the confidence we need to deal with crisis and discouragement.  Courage means biting the bullet and looking forward.  It means believing that we can overcome the obstacles that human life places before us not necessarily on our own resources and power, but on God’s divine power that remains steadfast and undefinable.

Courage is not learned overnight, but is created and strengthened by long years of practice and patience.  It is growth through the hardships of life without discontent, bitterness and resentment.  With courage, the struggles of life can develop within us maturity and deeper sensitivity to just how tender and special the human spirit really is.

The courage to face the obstacles and challenges of life requires a life-long pursuit of patience, self-sacrifice, self-discipline and nurture of one’s faith through the love of Christ. And, with this courage we are able to face the things we cannot change and to stand up and change things that need changing.  Courage empowers us to offer forgiveness knowing our confession may not be accepted, to offer assistance to others even when we feel abandoned or the depths of despair ourselves, and to love despite the words of anger and hatred received.

This month of February, look into your own heart.  See where you need courage.  Perhaps you need courage to take risks and meet the challenges before you…maybe the courage to face known weaknesses head-on… perhaps courage to trust that God’s mercy is steadfast even in the depths of crisis.  Think and pray about life’s journey in a big way (What’s the big picture?), not just a day-by-day operation.  Review priorities and values recognizing that our relationships with one another and our Creator need to be in proper order and balance to that of our material needs and quests. 

And finally, as you celebrate Valentine’s with red hearts and words of love, ask God to reveal to you the courage that He has placed within your heart… and then share it!

Blessings, Pastor Irv

 

Florence Congregational Church • 130 Pine Street, Florence, Massachusetts 01062 • 413.584.1325
 

 

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