My earliest heroes were not people from TV or even storybooks. They were Bible characters like David, Daniel, Esther, and the “Three Worthies” who were thrown into the burning fiery furnace—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!
I loved the stories about these heroes and what they stood for. It seemed as if there was NOTHING that they were afraid of. In today’s environment, I find myself thinking about them again and again.
One of the reasons that the scriptures have been a source of great solace and encouragement for so many generations is because of those stories—those experiences and situations that ancient people encountered and wrote about. In scripture after scripture, they are not just expressing their hopes—they are recounting what they have learned from their experiences. Their convictions grow out of the confirmation of their faith as it was tested, tried, and proved to be well-founded.
When Joshua proclaims, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9), he is speaking from his life experiences.
When Moses encourages, “It is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6), he is describing the companion that he has learned to depend on.
When David announces, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1), he is identifying his constant source of strength.
When Peter consoles us by writing, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7), he is describing how he has learned to depend on God and His care.
When Isaiah recounts the prophetic words that say, “Be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10), his words have the ring of experience and conviction about the future.
And when Mordecai asks Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14), he is not only speaking of their own time—he is calling all of us to be our best and bravest selves in whatever set of difficulties and critical moments we live in.
I have a whole set of new heroes on my mind this week—heroes that I want to thank for their willingness to live out their values through taking up the difficult tasks that the coronavirus crisis has pressed upon us. Thank you to our physicians and employees who are working around the clock to prepare for the worst and who are hoping for the best. Thank you to those people who are still stocking shelves and to the cashiers in grocery stores. Thank you to those who are still operating the gas stations. And to all those teachers who are trying to make sense of online teaching. Those who are working overtime to keep the public places that we all share safe and clean. Police, fire, and EMTs. The volunteers taking groceries to senior citizens. And to all those who are sheltering in place, staying home and staying safe, doing whatever it takes to take the energy away from this unseen foe.
Thank you! Every single one of you. Maybe the words of one of the greatest heroes ever will help you remember that you are not alone. Moses, as he encourages his people to face up to the great unknown, assures them, “It is the Lord your God who fights for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).
May we find the strength to be heroes in this most uncertain time.
All Bible texts are taken from the English Standard Version.