According to Oxford, courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. Oxford also says it is strength in the face of pain or grief. Of course, the polar opposites here are encourage and discourage. One is giving courage and the other is taking away courage.
When we thing of courage we often think of kings, warriors and those facing life threatening circumstances. I personally think of Joshua who led the Israelites into the promised land. Great battles need great courage to be sure. In our modern context we think of police, fire, and defense as areas needing courage. But courage today is not limited to our warriors and first responders.
Christianity requires courage. It takes courage to maintain a different worldview than the one around us. It takes courage to speak out against sin when it is so pervasive that it is a human right. Christians live for the kingdom of heaven and our worldview is one of the Bible. The reality is Christ is the solution to sin. Unfortunately, many in this world do not want a solution, only permission and affirmation that sin is good. Christians are bad, sin is good. It takes courage to stand against that.
Marriages would not survive without courage. I know there are some who find marriage frightening and it would surely take courage for them to even consider it. For those who are married, it takes strength to love day in and day out. There are times you are going to be hurt and there are times you are going to hurt your spouse. It takes courage to love through the ups and downs of marriage. And yeah, sometimes our spouses can be scary. Every morning my wife gets to see me before I brush my hair and have my coffee. Scary!
It takes courage to support each other in times of crisis and pandemics. How easy is it for us to grab what we need for our own family and loved ones, lock the door and hide our stash? Some survivalists do this very thing. They have hoards of food and supplies protected by weapons and ammunition. People outside of their family are not to be trusted and treated as potential enemies.
I understand this type of preparation. Protecting my family is one of my top priorities. The idea of moving to an isolated spot and setting up a fortress may seem good and even peaceful but it is not based on courage. It is based on fear. The issue at the heart of this is the same issue we all face right now. How to balance faith and practicality? How to have courage in the face of fear?
Everyone is going to have their own sense of what is the right thing to do. Most of us follow the guidelines laid down by our governments. Some will fend for themselves. Other’s will ignore all guidelines and try to live life as usual. The extremes of survivalist mentality and life as normal mentality are based on convictions.
Convictions are the beliefs upon which we act the strongest. It takes a lot of preparation to be a survivalist. And it takes a lot of belief in your way of thinking to live normal in abnormal times. But are convictions courage? There is a relationship between the two. Beliefs lead us to think and to act. The survivalist, and his opposite, the normalist, do what they do out of their specific beliefs.
Many people are scared, hurting and uncertain about the future. Families are suffering deeply and we all have our own specific things we do to get through. For some it is isolation and still providing as much normalcy as possible. For others it is cloistering. However we decide to be during this pandemic, let us be kind to each other. In the grocery stores there are people picking up a few needed or wanted items and there are people with grocery carts overflowing. One is not necessarily hoarding and one is not necessarily putting others at risk.
Anger towards each other is the opposite of courage. It is discouragement. It divides us and causes more discouragement and more fear.
Let us encourage each other through kindness, patience, and love. Joshua also was facing a fearful time. Let’s believe the words God spoke to him and have the convictions of their truth for us today.
”Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. He and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministries which offers love, hope, and encouragement to one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods, North Central Regina. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca