top of page

The Courage to Be

Talitha Arnold


Be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:14 (NRSV)

Sometimes I don’t want to be. Strong, that is.

Like the day after Christmas when, out of the blue, I had to put my dog down because a hidden tumor broke and flooded her chest cavity so she couldn’t breathe. As I listened to the vet tell me the diagnosis and the lack of options, I didn’t want to be strong. I didn’t want to take courage. I just wanted to hold my dog and bury my face in her fur.

I didn’t want to be strong that summer day when a beloved friend and colleague told me he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He’d had some symptoms, but we thought he’d dodged the bullet because the tests all came back negative—until they didn't. The day he got the news, I didn’t want to be strong. I just wanted to have a magic wand that would take away that awful disease.

I imagine that most if not all of you who are reading this have had such days—or maybe such months or years. I also suspect that ninety-nine percent of the time, you’ve been very strong through very hard times. Most likely the composer of Psalm 27 had faced such times with strength and courage. But now, faced with adversaries and false witnesses “breathing out violence,” the psalmist is afraid and despairing.

Before the psalmist gets to the affirmation to “be strong,” they first have to be all those other human things: fearful, weak, needy. Perhaps we do, too. Perhaps then we can remember anew where our strength comes from.

Prayer You promise to be with us, O God. Help us to trust that promise and just be—whatever we are—with you.

55 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

While It Was Still Dark

In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. - Mark 1:35 (NRSV) Since it was long before the sun’s light dawned, what woke him up

Even Babies

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. - Luke 18:15a (NRSV) It’s probably blasphemy, but the story of Jesus blessing the children has long been among my least favorite pass

Go!

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” - Genesis 12:1 (NRSV) Each January, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mary

bottom of page