Summary: Do you have the heart a mouse or the heart of an eagle? Let me answer that for you. God has not given you the heart of a mouse. He has given you the heart and the spirit of an eagle so that by His strength and by His power you will be able to soar to greater and greater and greater heights.
A paratrooper was once asked how many times he had jumped out of an airplane while he was in the military. “None,” he said. “What do you mean ‘none,’” his friend asked, “I thought that you were a paratrooper in the service.” “I was,” he answered, “but I never jumped … I was pushed out of the plane many times … but I never jumped.”
We’ve all heard the proverbial and provocative question: “Are you a man or a mouse?” Today I want to ask you if your are an eagle or a mouse.
Let me start off by telling you a story about a little mouse who lived in constant fear. He was afraid of everything … his own shadow … what might happen today … what might happen tomorrow. He made mountains out of mole hills … and because he was afraid of everything all the time, he was weary of life. “If only I were something else … like a cat,” he would wish. “Then I wouldn’t have to be afraid all the time.”
One lucky day the mouse ran into a powerful magician. In great fear, the mouse went up to the magician and begged the magician to turn him into a cat. “If I were a cat,” the mouse explained, “I wouldn’t be afraid all the time.” “Sure,” said the magician … and with a wave of his wand … poof! … the mouse was now a cat.
The mouse was enjoying his new-found bravery until he ran across a big dog, who growled and chased him … and the mouse-now-turned-cat once again lived in fear. “If only I were a dog,” the mouse lamented, “then I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.”
The mouse sought out the magician and explained to him what he wanted. “I’m still so afraid,” he squeaked. “Could you please turn me into a dog … then I wouldn’t have to be afraid any more.” “Sure,” said the magician … and with an “abra-ca-dabra” and a wave of his wand … poof! The cat who used to be a mouse was now a big dog. “Now I’ll never be afraid,” he thought.
As the dog who was once a cat who was once a mouse was walking through the woods on his way home, he heard strange sounds all around him and he convinced himself that the sounds were coming from a lion that was stalking him … and he was filled with terror. Of course, he turned tail and ran all the way back to the magician’s house.
Panting … shaking … all out of breath … the mouse-turned-cat-turned dog begged the magician to turn him into a lion. “If I were a lion,” he explained, “then I would never be afraid again.” Once again, the magician waved his wand but this time he said, “Abra-ca-dabra … be what your heart is!” … and poof! … the mouse was a mouse again. “What happened,” the mouse squeaked. “Why did you turn me back into a mouse?” The magician sighed. “I didn’t. I asked that you be what your heart is, and you have the heart of a mouse. I turned you into a cat, but you still had a mouse’s heart. I turned you into a dog, but you still had a mouse’s heart. I could turn you into a lion or an elephant, if you want, but you would still have the heart of a mouse.”
The Israelites may have had hearts like lions … but after living as slaves and servant in Babylon for 70 years, their hearts were filled with fear and doubt and concern. Their nation … destroyed. Jerusalem … a pile of rubble. The Temple … God’s House … gone. They were beaten. They felt alone and abandoned by God … and they where hopeless. It is at this point that God tells His Beloved: “Comfort, O Comfort my people” (Isaiah 40:1). The Hebrew word that God uses is “naham,” which means “to breath deeply.” “Naham, breath deeply, my people … naham because your time of exile is almost over.”
“Naham” is also the root of the Hebrew word that means “repent.” When we repent, we breathe deeply for two reasons. One … because we are about to head in a new direction or begin a new life. [Demonstrate with a deep breath of resolve.] That extra breath or sigh signals our resolve to forward. Second … we can breath a deep sigh of relief because our time of trial and exile from God is finally over. “Naham, repent … naham, breathe deeply, O children of Israel for your time of exile is almost over.”
We translate “naham” into the English word “comfort,” which is also a very interesting word. It’s made up of a combination of two Latin words … “com” and “fortis.” “Com” means “with” and “fortis” means “strength” … together … “comfortis” … means “with strength.” When we “comfort” someone … a friend or a loved one … we are coming beside them and trying to “comfortis” them or give them strength to keep going. When we “encourage” someone we are literally trying to give them “cour” or “heart” … giving someone “heart” gives them hope … and hope gives them “fortis” … or strength. Got that? To “encourage” someone is to give them “cour” or “heart,” which gives them hope, which gives them “comfortis” or “strength.” Good stuff, amen?