Monday, October 20, 2014

Downsides of Discipline

One of the TV morning news shows recently teased about “simple ways to exercise and do it consistently.” I didn’t wait to hear what these “secrets” were, but I doubt they had anything to do with thumbs working smartphones or the remote control.

The reason I chose not to watch this “investigative report” is because I already know better. There’s no such thing as a “simple” way to commit to meaningful exercise on a regular basis. After nearly eight years of a 4-5 times a week exercise regimen, preceded by about nine years of power-walking at least three times a week, I’ve adopted the following philosophy: “I hate to exercise – but I love to have exercised.”

As far as I can tell, the only secret to effective exercise is a little word many of us hate to hear: Discipline. The discipline of selecting an appropriate time and place; the discipline of putting in a sufficient amount of time and effort; and the discipline of maintaining a commitment to keep at it consistently and frequently, three times a week or more. There’s no simple way around that.

The problem is, it seems if there’s something many Americans don’t like, it’s discipline. We want the quick fix, not a slow-but-sure solution. We want results in the short-term; nothing long-term will do. Nice and easy, not strenuous and difficult.

But I like a quote by Dorian Yates, a much-decorated English professional bodybuilder. Apparently responding to those favoring the quick and easy route, Yates stated, "Moderation in bodybuilding is a vice; moderation in discipline is a failure." He didn’t become a world champion by training in moderation. To excel, whether it’s bodybuilding, academics, a career, parenting, or even a hobby, requires a commitment to work as hard and long as necessary, and that requires discipline.

This photo of a rose trellis shows how
this "discipline" enables the roses
to grow full and beautiful.
Imagine a rosebush without a supporting trellis to provide “discipline” for its growth. Tomatoes won’t grow well on a plant that’s lying on the ground – that’s why we tie them to stakes, so they grow strong and tall. Stakes supply the “discipline.”

The Bible speaks a lot about discipline – most of it in a positive sense. For instance, Proverbs 22:6 urges parents, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." The literal meaning of this is to teach them to follow their natural bent, to discover who and what they’ve been created to be. But to do this – to discern this “bent” and guide them to pursue it properly – requires discipline, both for child and parent.  

Earlier in Proverbs we’re told, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17), and “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). I don’t see any ambiguous meaning here.

In John 15:1-2, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Dr. Bruce Wilkinson years ago wrote in his book, Secrets of the Vine, that sometimes this pruning process feels painful, but it’s done as a form of discipline, much as pruning a rosebush or grapevine isn’t done for harm but to strengthen and make more productive.

And Hebrews 12:5-8 declares God uses discipline to demonstrate His love and concern for His children: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.”

The Scriptures do declare, “God is love” (as I plan to explore in a future post), but part of His love is to discipline us by training us up in the way we should go.

So if you’re going through a tough time, experiencing a season of God’s discipline, don’t despair. It might be His way of saying, “Child, I love you just the way you are. But I also love you too much to leave you that way.”

Just as in exercise we set physical goals and then discipline ourselves to follow the necessary steps to attain them, God often exerts discipline on us to get us to where He wants us to be. When the going seems hard, we must remember the adage: Father knows best.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Fan…Or A Follower?

For ducks, and people, being a fan is different from being a follower. 

A few years ago Kyle Idleman wrote Not a Fan. In this book he explains the difference between being a fan of something and being a follower. The distinction, as Idleman points out, is critical.

Most of us consider ourselves fans of someone or something. We might have a favorite author whose books we avidly read, or a singer or musical group whose recordings we buy as soon as they’re released. We might be a fan of a comic strip that makes us chuckle each day. We can be fans of specific media celebrities, fashion designers, politicians, TV shows, even restaurants.

Of course, many of us are ardent, even diehard, fans of one or more sports teams. People that know me have no doubt I’m a fan – bordering on “fanatic” – of the Ohio State Buckeyes, especially during football and basketball seasons. I’ve also been a fan of various pro sports teams through the years, although my devotion toward those hasn’t been nearly as constant.

And that’s the point: A fan might be an enthusiastic admirer, but that can change over time. Rooting for a certain NFL team, for example, doesn’t require a lifetime commitment. You might like the team because of a particular player, but when that player leaves the team, you abandon it to cheer for another. Or if the team fails to meet your expectations, you can easily jump off the bandwagon and root for another.

To be a follower, on the other hand, involves more than being passionate, since passion can fade. It requires being fully devoted, completely committed to what the one you’re following stands for, whether it be an individual, institution or ideology, even willing to submit to a higher authority.

This is why Idleman posed the question to people professing to be Christians: Are you a follower of Jesus, or just a fan?

We live in a society where many people express admiration for Jesus Christ, the model He provided through His life, along with the principles and values He taught. Mahatma Gandhi was a great fan of Christ, but not one of His followers. Gandhi famously commented, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Frankly, Gandhi had a good point. In his day, as well as today, many that have claimed to be Christians demonstrate by their lives they are fans, but not followers. Because Jesus calls His followers to radical devotion and commitment, not merely cheering from the sidelines. 

Jesus often said outrageous, even perplexing things, once telling a self-assured, rich young ruler that if he wanted to be His follower, first he had to sell all of his worldly possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. “Then you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). This young man, whom the passage describes as having “great possessions,” didn’t like this idea, so he left Jesus and went away sorrowful.  

After another series of challenging statements, Jesus found a number of curious hangers-on reconsidering the value of following Him. “From that time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). (Isn’t it interesting that the numbers of this verse are 6-6-6?)

But Jesus never wavered in the demands He made of those desiring to be with Him. He wasn’t recruiting Facebook “friends” or trying to see how many “likes” He could collect. Jesus was straight-forward, insisting that His followers die to themselves, their desires and aspirations, and go as He led them: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

The question I’ve asked myself, one worth asking again from time to time, is simple: When it comes to Jesus, am I a follower – or just a fan? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bothered By ‘Blessings’

There’s an old saying concerning communication: “It’s not what you say – it’s exactly what you say.” So it’s implicit that before words easily slip off our tongues, there’s no harm in pausing to consider the impact of what we say upon our hearers.

This came to mind as I read an online article by Scott Dannemiller, a former missionary. The article was entitled, “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying.” What is that one thing, according to Dannemiller? “Feeling blessed.”

Even in the midst of storm clouds, a
rainbow can reveal God's blessings.
(Photo by Joe Ehrmann)
As he explains, “I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the ‘amen’ at the end of a prayer.”

I’ve often observed this, too – and been guilty of it. Successfully recovering from health setbacks, we declare how “blessed” we are. We acquire a new (or newer) car, complete with high-tech gizmos, and tell others it’s a “blessing.” A businesswoman reports how God continues to “bless” her business with growth and profits. Or we attend a gathering at someone’s gorgeous, expansive home, compliment them on it, and they reply, “Yes, God’s really blessed us with it.”

Sounds good, right? Giving credit to the Lord, where it’s due. Readily acknowledging good things that come into our lives and work, expressing gratitude to God for His provision. In one sense, that’s as it should be.

But what about those who suffer from chronic, even terminal illnesses – with no prospect of experiencing good health again? Are they not blessed? And if not, why? What about the folks stuck with clunkers for vehicles, who can’t afford anything better? Is God mad at them? The businessman who strives to honor God in all he does, yet sees his company continue to flounder. Why hasn’t the Lord “blessed” him? A struggling couple who love Jesus admire the splendid home but can’t help but wonder, “Why hasn’t God blessed us like this?”

As Dannemiller pointed out, in our American culture we tend to equate God’s blessings with material prosperity and physical well-being. But taking a close look at the Scriptures, that’s not necessarily the biblical view.

Jesus told His followers,In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Trouble? Where’s the blessing in that, right?

Writing to believers in the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul declared, “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance, in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5). Could it be God didn’t like Paul as much as we thought?

Paul and another apostle, James, exhorted followers of Jesus to “rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3) and “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). What kind of “showers of blessings” are these?

When the Bible speaks about blessings, much of the time it offers a perspective that doesn’t take into account materialistic rewards.

In Matthew 5, His so-called “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus talked about those blessed that are “poor in spirit,” “those who mourn,” “the meek,” “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” and “those who are persecuted.” Hardly the kinds of things we would feel blessed about, but as He explained, each of these conditions cause people to draw closer to God, perhaps the greatest blessing of all.

The very first psalm also offers a non-materialistic view of blessings. It states, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers” (Psalm 1:1). He’s blessed by not associating with disreputable people that can have a negative, ungodly influence on him.

This isn’t to say God can’t or doesn’t bless us in tangible ways, because many times He does. But trials and adversities that move us closer to God often can prove to be great blessings, while material possessions that become idols, objects of our affections, can prove instead to be a curse by distracting us from God.

When Jesus was approached by a woman in a crowd, He told her, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). Do you want to be blessed? Simply do what the Lord tells you to do in the Scriptures. Then, regardless of your circumstances – good or bad – you can truthfully declare, “I’m greatly blessed.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Biggest Loser

Have you recently watched “The Biggest Loser” on TV, or another of those human makeover shows? A current edition features former star athletes who have “let themselves go” and are trying to regain their former svelte selves. From fit to fat – and back again?

Transformations taking place over the course of programs like these often are astounding. Sometimes clothes the participants wore in the opening episode would fit two of the persons surviving for the final show. Occasionally it’s hard to believe the overweight individual and the “made-over” version are the same person. They truly become shadows of their former selves.

Interestingly, “loser” more commonly is used as a derogatory term – whether in sports or everyday life. Competing in football, basketball, golf, soccer or some other sport, no one wants to be a loser. The same is true of being a member of a family or social group: “You’re a loser, you chump!” On these “Biggest Loser”-type programs, however, it’s a badge of honor to become the champion loser. This can be true in a spiritual sense as well.

The Bible asserts it’s actually a good thing to be a loser, as long as you’re losing the right things. For instance, in Matthew 10:39 Jesus talked about the importance of setting the right priorities: Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

I imagine some of His hearers might have wondered, “What’s Jesus talking about, losing our life to find it?” Later He elaborated, perhaps to clarify what He’d said earlier: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).

Being inhabitants of a tangible, visible world, it’s easy for us to forget about unseen, intangible spiritual aspects of our lives. Out of sight, out of mind, right? In fact, the materialistic emphasis that begs for our attention every day can result in matters of faith becoming nothing more than add-ons, rather than central to our daily existence.

The life to which Christ calls His followers, however, isn’t one in which He serves as icing on the cake, an “add-on” to the things in this world we embrace so tightly. Instead, He desires to be the focal point of our lives. As the apostle Paul declared to curious Greek leaders and officials, For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Jim Elliot, among five missionaries murdered while seeking to minister to the indigenous Huaorani people in Ecuador in 1956, made a similar statement about being willing to lose everything except what matters most: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

In Elliot’s case, his loss amounted to what we often term the “ultimate sacrifice.” But as he declared – and his widow, Elizabeth, affirmed in books following his death – being the “biggest loser” made him a true winner in God’s sight.

A particularly American trait is to compartmentalize our lives – our work, family, hobbies, spiritual pursuits. We carve our daily existence into neat slices, conveniently separated with little or no overlap. But when Jesus says we should “lose our life to find it,” He’s calling for us to let loose of everything that would detract from giving our full, undivided allegiance to Him.

The question every one of us must answer is, “Am I willing to become the ‘biggest loser’ for Jesus?” This might be harder than it sounds. But if we are, we’ll find ourselves realizing the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Are you ready to become a new you?

Monday, October 6, 2014

No Experience Required?

A long time ago, in a land far away, finishing my graduate degree in journalism, I was looking for a job to start applying the journalistic truths and principles I’d been learning. I interviewed at one of the daily newspapers in Columbus, Ohio (yes, in those days many cities had more than one newspaper). Like most students closing out their college career, I was eager to get started professionally.

The assistant editor reviewed my resume and samples of my work, indicating I seemed to have some ability. Then he said, “But we really need someone with experience.” What? I had worked on the student newspaper at Ohio State, but knew he meant real experience in the day-to-day business of reporting and editing.

I said something like, “I know I need experience. But how do I get experience unless you give me a job?”

As it turned out, I was hired as editor of a small community newspaper. All I had to do was be the editor, news and sports reporter, photographer, editorial writer and columnist. Talk about experience! I worked there for more than six years, and although I made lots of mistakes, I wouldn’t have traded the experience I gained for anything.

In the work world, virtually every job of significance requires previous experience. You never see a job advertised this way: “CEO Wanted for Major Corporation. No experience required.” For positions of authority and major responsibility, experience is a must. 

It seems to me, however, two of the most important jobs anyone can ever have don’t require experience. In fact, the first time anyone assumes these jobs, prior experience is impossible. The jobs I’m talking about are: being married, and becoming a parent.

I’m not a huge fan of weddings, but I’ve been to enough of them – including my own – to know the bride and groom always arrive for the ceremony with the same mindset. They think they know it all, the rest of their life is going to be entitled “Happily Ever After,” and their marriage partner is going to make them blissfully and completely happy forevermore.

Yeah, right!

Soon, after a few months, a few weeks, or in some cases, a few hours, Mr. or Mrs. Right suddenly realizes, “What have I done?” as the daily, relentless reality of married life settles in. “Sure, I married for better or worse – but I didn’t realize it was going to be this worse!” Thus begins on-the-job training, along with the experience they’ll need for the long haul.

The same is true of parenting. Mom and dad excitedly anticipate arrival of baby No. 1, certain their little person will be the cutest, smartest, most delightful child in the history of children. Then baby is born and really is cute. (Note: Anything in miniature is cute – even baby piranhas!) But then come the dirty diapers, crying and screaming, spitting up, waking up at all hours of the night, trips to the doctor for various maladies. Once again, on-the-job training provides experience we wish we could have had beforehand.

So embarking on marriage for the first time (and hopefully, the last) or parenting are jobs for which experience isn’t required. Thankfully, however, we have help. In the Scriptures, God has provided ample teaching about marriage and raising children. If we heed what He’s said – after all, marriage and having kids were His idea – we’ll at least have a head start.

For instance, to husbands and wives God gives this serious admonition: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).

At wedding ceremonies we often hear the words from 1 Corinthians 13, including “Love is patient, love is kind…. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” These words should be recorded and replayed every morning by couples for at least their first year of marriage.

About raising children, the Bible advises, “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). And Ephesians 6:4 warns, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

It’s almost like God saying, “Being a husband or a wife, a mom or a dad, will be hard work. It will have its joys, but will be extremely demanding. Sometimes you’ll feel over your head, totally unqualified. And you’ll be right! That’s why I’ve given lots of instructions to guide you, practical wisdom for every problem and challenge you’ll face.”

When you’re short on experience, it’s always good to seek advice from someone wiser than yourself. I can’t think of a better resource for this than the Scriptures.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In the Presence of Greatness

Imagine having the opportunity to meet a legendary figure in any realm of endeavor that interests you. Let’s focus on people that have already passed from the scene, since we know they no longer can do anything foolish to smudge their marks in history.

Wouldn't it be fun to meet Beethoven?
For instance, if you’re a lover of music and have an appreciation for the classics, what might it be like to meet someone like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven or Peter Tchaikovsky? (Assuming you could converse either in their language or a good translator was available, of course.)

Would you simply walk up, give a nod of your head and say something like, “Hey, Wolfy,” or “Hi, Tchai, what’s up”? I doubt it.

Suppose you’re a huge sports fan and could meet Jesse Owens, who not only earned four gold medals competing in track and field at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, but also kicked dust in the face of Adolf Hitler, then a rising Nazi leader hoping to use the Games as a showcase for his evil ideology. Or maybe someone like Lou Gehrig, the great New York Yankee first baseman who became the namesake for ALS, or the astoundingly versatile athlete Babe Didrikson Zacharias.

Wouldn’t you feel honored to be in their presence?

Pick any other area of expertise: Science (how about Albert Einstein or Sir Isaac Newton?); medicine (Louis Pasteur or Madame Curie?); entertainment (Elvis or Judy Garland?); statesmanship (Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington or Rosa Parks?). The list could go on, but the point is, how would you react if you could meet any of these, or some other great person that comes to your mind?

Jesse Owens made an indelible mark,
both in sports and for humanity.
Chances are you wouldn’t take the visit lightly. You’d probably feel humbled and privileged to be in the presence of greatness, wouldn’t you?

Interestingly, we have the opportunity to do something like that – actually, even better – if we are followers of Jesus Christ. We can meet Him every day without ceremony, pomp or circumstance, simply through prayer and reading His Word, the Bible. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Through Christ we have immediate access to God, the Creator and sustainer of the universe.

The people I’ve mentioned above – and others you can think of – would receive our homage because of their accomplishments and contributions to the world. If we would do so for them, as mere human beings (very gifted ones), what should our attitude be toward the Lord who made everything – even gave these celebrated individuals the talents and abilities they used in such wonderful ways?

Philippians 2:10 makes the amazing declaration that, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” I understand this to mean all people – even those that denied or even opposed Jesus and His followers in this life.

The heavenly scene described in Revelation 4:11 tells of 24 elders gathered around the throne of God, declaring, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

I’m looking forward to being a spectator of that glorious gathering. Maybe some of those listed above will be in the crowd also, joining in the praise, truly in the presence of greatness.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Confusion About Courage?

Who knows how much courage this craft of war, the LST 325, carried
as the soldiers inside it prepared to storm the beaches of Normandy?

We hear a lot about “courage” these days: Athletes playing through nagging injuries: “Courageous.” Daredevils attempting outrageous stunts, hoping their YouTube videos will go viral: “Courageous.” Entertainer or celebrities making declarations outside the social norm: “How courageous!” people respond in unbridled admiration.

Maybe. Or maybe not. When conforming to nonconformity, as long-haired, bell-bottomed, tie-dyed, “far out, man!” hippies did in the 1960’s, how much “courage” does that require? If it’s “in” to do within your peer group, doesn’t it demand more courage not to do that thing?

When I think of legitimate courage, examples that come to mind are Branch Rickey, then owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play baseball in the Major Leagues. Their story was dramatized in the film “42,” but real life offered more than enough drama for them.

It was 1947, and Rickey decided to do the unthinkable – breaking the color barrier by bringing up Robinson, a member of the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs, to play second base for the Dodgers. Rickey had no doubts about Robinson’s athletic prowess, but could the young man withstand the pressure, prejudice and racial epithets to prove a black player could compete at baseball’s highest level?

And Robinson, of course, had to be willing to endure scorn and hatred as the target of mindless bigotry. He was alone. Crossing the boundary into an all-white sport and proving he belonged was hardly the “in” thing at that time. Together, Rickey and Robinson exemplified what true courage should look like.

Even at the controls of an anti-aircraft
gun, sailors must have felt very exposed.
Recently the LST 325 (Landing Ship, Tank) made a stop along the Tennessee River here in Chattanooga, another example of real courage. This stark gray, 330-foot craft was used to transport tanks, vehicles, cargo and military personnel during World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. Looking at this battle-scarred vessel, which landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, I couldn’t help but imagine the courage possessed by the hundreds of servicemen who left its austere bowels to storm the beaches on that fateful day. Many of them never left those shores alive.

One other example comes to mind: the Israelites poised to enter the Promised Land, leaving memories of slavery in Egypt behind and entering a foreign land to confront formidable foes and an unfamiliar environment. They had no Navy SEALS, Green Berets or Black Ops forces to neutralize and defeat the opposition. There were no Blackhawk helicopters hovering above to watch their backs, or even automatic weapons. All they had was faith and good old-fashioned “chutzpah” to press ahead.

Moses, who had led Israel out of Israel and around the wilderness for 40 years, had died, leaving his successor, Joshua, to complete the journey. Despite many miracles God had performed, the Israelites had cause for feeling apprehensive. Knowing this, God issued just one directive through their new leader. He instructed Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).

To ensure His message was understood, God repeated His command. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).

Then for emphasis, God gave the command a third time: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Joshua passed these commands on to the people of Israel, who vowed to follow him and do as he instructed. Then they in turn exhorted their leader, “Only be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:18).

These words were spoken and written thousands of years ago, but remain just as relevant today for those that follow Jesus Christ. What daunting challenges, what formidable obstacles do you face today – at work, in your home or in some other area of your life? For what do you also need to be “strong and courageous”?

You might be thinking, “That sounds like a good idea. But easier said than done. How can I be courageous with what I’m facing?”

That’s a question many of us are asking, or will be asking at some point in the future. And in today’s turbulent times, with news bombarding us daily about terrorism, disease epidemics, severe weather and many other threats beyond our control, 21st century living isn’t for the faint of heart. So again we ask, how can we be courageous?

Many times we can’t muster the strength, no matter how hard we try. That’s where faith comes in – the kind modeled decades ago by men like Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, and probably many soldiers as they were leaving the LST to do battle with an unseen enemy.

We can find this courage as we trust in God, as King David wrote: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would find the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14).