What is it about the characteristic of courage that is so admirable and appealing?
Hollywood movies are full of stories of courage. They make for great movies – the producers and directors know this and reap the benefits. We all love to hear of people who have had courage in challenging circumstances. Something resonates deep within our hearts and is touched by these stories. When the hero, who is facing immanent death, fights off the evil villain or triumphs over impossible circumstances something deep within us goes “YES!” – something beyond ourselves and yet within ourselves is touched. Could it be that stories of great courage feed our deep inner desire for courage in our own lives? Could we be getting our courage ‘fix’ from a movie rather than from victories in our own lives? Consider this quote…
“A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away” – Dr McCoy (Bones) [Startrek – The Original Series]
Yes I know, I know, it’s not from the Bible, but I reckon the writer has observed something deep within men, don’t you think?. You see, courage is needed to meet the difficulties and struggles of life HEAD ON else we begin to wither and die. Why are there so many people who medicate and escape and avoid the trails of life and end up in depression, despair, torment and mental illness. (Let me qualify my previous comment by saying, in a healthy, supportive community those who lack courage are supported and helped and spurred on through their trails of life) Courage is what is desperately needed in this life!
But what about GREAT courage like David and Goliath. Well, David grew his courage out of tending the sheep – fighting off the bear and the lion. Sadly, in our western society, courage is something that can be avoided by the comforts and escapes of our lives. It is something that is lacking and undeveloped in most of us.
I found these great thoughts about courage here from a fellow who was writing about some of the courageous Sep 11 aircraft passengers. I think he has ‘nailed it’…
“If I wish to have courage in those decisive moments when it is needed most, I cannot approach every uncomfortable situation I encounter seeking the quickest and least painful means of avoiding it. All those seemingly inconsequential choices I have made to avoid the unpleasant event, instead of confronting it, determines how I will deal with future events.
Courage is not a quality that materializes automatically whenever it is needed. Courage is developed over time by conscious decisions not to back down when faced with small threats and problems, and instead taking rise to the occasion of challenging fears. Thus, when the larger threat or pivotal moment presents itself, the fortified courage is ready for the new challenger.
However, this is not to say that because of courage, there will be no fear. Courage is not the absence of fear; rather, true courage is acting in the face of your fear when the danger looms ominously and the outcome is uncertain.
Developing courage is not easy, nor is it fun, and in fact it will require going beyond normal security and comfort levels.
But in choosing to live as safe and painless a life as possible, short-circuiting any opportunities to build courage, not only will we be inadequately prepared to respond to those events in our lives that demand courage, but we will also sabotage the thrill and joy of risk involved with living.” – Christopher De Lastic
In Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart’ movie William Wallace’s word of wisdom is…
“All men die; few men ever really live”
pronouncing being courageous and living beyond yourself for a cause and a freedom is real living.
John Eldredge in his book ‘Wild at Heart’ says…
“The most dangerous man on earth is the man who has reckoned with his own death. The less we are trying to “save ourselves,” the more effective a warrior we will be”
suggesting (again) that dying to oneself and living for a cause or a freedom is truely living.
The Spiritual side of Courage
I believe courage is intimately connected with our spirit within us. Each one of us is made up of spirit, soul and body (1 Thes 5:23). Courage is a component of our spirits that overcomes(or rather overrules) the fears of our souls and our bodies. Courage needs to be exercised for it to grow. If we lack courage at any time in our lives we begin the process of withering and dying inside. When we don’t rise and have courage our spirit takes a blow and it can be the beginning of our spirit becoming crushed. Our spiritual courage can be used for good and for evil – we can see that very clearly is this world today. Satan knows the potential of courage that lies within each one of us – that is why he tries so hard to deceive us.
True courage, a courage that is pure comes from our spirit connected to God’s Spirit. True courage works in combination with our faith in our Heavenly Father to allow us to defeat our giants and to conquer our trials and to have victory in all that we do. Those that have lacked courage and have crushed spirits God longs to restore so that courage returns. True courage, courage like David facing and defeating Goliath, comes from ‘a facing of and an overcoming of death'(Heb 2:14-15) and ‘a dying to oneself’ (Luke 9:24) and living for our Heavenly Father. Is is not based on a self generated courage but a courage and faith that is bridled and controlled by His Holy Spirit.
Consider also, the courage of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, who, having full knowledge of what was before Him, chose the gruesome and painful and horrendous death on the cross for our salvation and eternal life (Heb 12:1-3).
Words of the Apostle Paul…
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage ; be strong.” [1 Cor 16:13 (NIV)]
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” [Phil 1:20 (NIV)]
Words of the writer of Hebrews…
“We are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”
[Heb 3:6b (NIV)]
Words of life from our Heavenly Father (through various people)…
[Deut 31:6,31:7,31:23; Josh 1:6,1:7,1:9,1:18,10:25; 1Chron 22:13,28:20;2 Chron 32:7 (NIV)]