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30th June: Be Not Dismayed

Be not dismayed. Joshua 1:9

The exuberant on-top-of-the-world life is not for all of us. True, we may experience this feeling at special times, immediately after our conversion, or when we pass 'finals'. But the mountain top experience does not last, and we often have our setbacks. Things go wrong despite all our efforts. The word said in kindness is misunderstood. Lack of sleep last night and the night before takes its toll, so that it is all too easy to wonder whether all our efforts are worth it, and whether it is any good to go on striving for excellence. Would it not be better to alter our standards and, indeed our job? Why ever did we do medicine at all? Dismay can seep into the soul and affect our way of living and our reason for it. One of the first things to suffer is our life in Christ, our prayer time, our Bible reading and our everyday witness. That is why Joshua was told that he needed courage and strength to go on studying and obeying God's word (Jos 1:7-8). The murmurings of the discontented people of Israel did not leave Moses and Joshua unscathed. Some of the rebellious talk sank into their souls (Nu 11:10-15). That is why God had to say 'Be not dismayed'. It required an act of obedience by them -- and it does by us too. This is a command for us to obey. Not to be dismayed is one of the hardest things to do. It requires much prayer and trust and can be one of the biggest trials of our faith.

The houseman years can be very difficult. After the friendship of the Christian Union, the joy of graduation, there follows the time of testing. The long hours, the responsibility which at times is awful, the calls which demand a knowledge and skill well beyond any preparation that the medical school gave us, these sap both our physical and spiritual strength. The n'th job applied for and denied, another intravenous drip into the tissues, the third dry lumbar puncture in succession, the families who break up before our very eyes, these all tax our courage, tenacity and Christian faith. And, just when we need it most, time for God is at a premium. The man of the world tackles the possible, the Christian the impossible. To do so the Christian requires not only courage but 'stickability', tenacity, the ability not to be deflected by dismay and the sure knowledge that he is commissioned in his everyday work by the King of Kings, who gives the strength for each new demand and who does not measure a man's life by worldly achievements but by his acts of obedience.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving has only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto man,
For out of his infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

Annie Johnson Flint

Further reading: Jos 1:1-9. Ex 14:13-22.


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