My radio show audience knows my oft-repeated slogan—the more that things change, the more we need to depend upon those things that never change.
It is my conviction that what I call God’s Biblical Blueprint is the best information source about those things that never change. Right now, things seem to be changing as rapidly and as profoundly as we have ever seen. Thus, we even more urgently need to know how to deal with change.
Here are the three most important things to know about change. (i) Change is inevitable; (ii) Change is scary. (iii) Change can be managed.
Change is inevitable because God placed us in a world of time with every ticking second heralding the new. Our ability to live safely and comfortably depends upon cultivating easy adaptability to new circumstances. The keyword is new—and new means change.
Change is scary because we humans are most comfortable when we live under stable and predictable conditions. Changes in health, financial, social, and family circumstances are just plain scary. Change is usually scary even when the change is for the better. For instance, a major promotion can be almost as scary as losing one’s job.
Change is best managed by acquiring courage. To guide us through change, the Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, teaches us the phrase, “Be Strong and of Good Courage,” or in Hebrew, CHaZaK VeEMaTZ. Every time this phrase is used, it is to encourage (see that word courage in there?) someone about to experience major change in life’s circumstances.
It is found in the context of God promoting Joshua to be Moses’ successor. It is found when King David hands over the kingship to his son, and it is found in the context of Israel confronting its enemies in war.
The first word, CHaZaK, describes having sufficient strength to triumph over whatever one is up against. For instance, the first Scriptural use of the word is,
Everyone came to Egypt to buy food from Joseph because the famine was CHaZaK, strong in all the land.
The famine was strong enough to overwhelm the land. Joseph’s wisdom in storing food during the good years meant that Egypt had the strength to deal with the oncoming famine. One needs the strength to do what one sets out to do.
The second word, VeEMaTZ, means, ‘and be courageous,’ which is to say, have the courage and the will to use your strength. For instance:
With strength she girds her loins and invigorates (VatAMeTZ) her arms.
The Hebrew word translated as ‘invigorates’ is the word EMaTZ suggests that having arms isn’t enough — one needs the fortitude to use them.
Winston Churchill claimed that World War II need never have taken place. When Hitler reoccupied the Rhine Valley, violating the terms of the Versailles treaty that ended World War I, Britain and the allies, could have confronted him and precipitated his fall from power. Instead, they hesitated. They possessed the military capacity—the CHaZaK, but they lacked the courage and the will—the EMaTZ to do so.
Thus, Scripture teaches that we must first be CHaZaK. Be strong enough to do whatever needs doing. Once we know we can, we seek courage to give us the will to do what must be done. Gaining the strength is a matter of strategy. Gaining courage is more complicated.
Here are three corridors to courage:
(1) Analyze each challenge you face separately so that you are not overwhelmed by an amorphous blob of fear.
(2) Cowardice is contagious. Courage is equally contagious. Keep company with people who possess it.
(3) In your imagination, constantly run a video of your fearlessness while repeating the mantra, ‘Be Strong and of good Courage,’ or CHaZaK Ve’ EMaTZ.
Change is constant. Courage becomes constant with exercise and use. Courage will always be the best way to deal with change and the fears it generates.