I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them. – John 16
In a 2012 article in Psychology Today, the author starts out the first paragraph with the following:
“Courage is something that everybody wants—an attribute of good character that makes us worthy of respect. From the Bible to fairy tales; ancient myths to Hollywood movies, our culture is rich with exemplary tales of bravery and self-sacrifice for the greater good. From the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz who finds the courage to face the witch, to David battling Goliath in the Bible, to Star Wars and Harry Potter, children are raised on a diet of heroic and inspirational tales.” Greenberg Ph.D., Melanie. “The Six Attributes of Courage Quotes and exercises to help you be your best and bravest self.” Psychology Today, 23 Aug. 2012, psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201208/the-six-attributes-courage. Accessed 31 March 2020.
We are experiencing courage every day when we watch the news during this pandemic. We hear about doctors, nurses, custodians, grocery workers, restaurant workers, transportation workers…and more. All working hard every single day even amongst the dangers of an invisible monster that could be anywhere. They place themselves within the vicinity of danger. That is courageous. Huge courage like we read in the bible, see in the movies, and know from the fairy tales.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, courage (as a noun) is the ability to do something that frightens one. This means that fear seems to come right alongside of courage. All of us are experiencing the pandemic. Some of us are essential workers that are critical to the welfare of our communities. They face the fear of a virus to make sure that their communities are healthy and safe.
There are also courageous individuals who aren’t currently on the front lines of this pandemic. They are individual families that are scared and lonely because they fear the unknown. These people are putting their fears aside to soothe their crying babies, play with their toddlers, calm their preteens, parent their teenagers, allow their young adults to be independent, visit with their grandchildren while they social distance, talk with their aging parents on FaceTime instead of in person.
There are also courageous individuals who are sitting at home in quarantine by themselves. They are alone and worried. They miss the life they had in the past and the one they hope to have again in the future. These people have to set aside their fears and log in to work remotely, or call their loved ones to check in.
There are also courageous individuals who have to stay in a home that is unsafe. They may be afraid for their welfare or that of their loved ones. These people have to set aside their fears to survive something other than a virus.
There are so many courageous individuals in this world that I cannot name them all. What we know is that it takes tremendous courage to live in the world. Jesus knew this. Yesterday we read about how he shared with his children just how much the world hated him. Today our reading is very short and isn’t even titled but so important:
“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them. – John 16
The Bible tells us not to live life afraid. May be that’s why God gave us courage. To take that fear and make it into something bigger and better. Use that fear to do good for you, for your family, for your communities. It just takes a few steps to make it from a place of paralyzing fear to a place of tremendous courage.
The Bible also fills us with stories of people experiencing trials and heartache. Lots of those stories have courage written somewhere within them. None of them more obvious then that of Jesus going to the cross to die for us. I’m sure it took tremendous courage for Jesus to live his life knowing he would die. Then for the day to come when he would suffer a pain and agony many of us can’t even imagine.
Jesus is the pillar of courage. It is by his example that we can learn that we need not fear because he gave us courage to make something better out of that fear. Jesus came and suffered. He told us that we would also experience pain and suffering. He courageously gave his life for a world of people that may or may not love him. He courageously overcame death so that you and I could experience eternal life amongst the pain and suffering and after the pain and suffering.
Today you may be filled with fear. But tomorrow you can exemplify courage. Because that’s what Jesus did and that’s exactly what he wants for you.