Courage is never something we gain easily. It comes at a great cost to the one who gains it because it only comes when an overwhelming fear is faced. And by its very nature, fear urges us to flee when we should stand and fear causes us to doubt when we should hope.
In truth I do not consider myself a courageous person as I look at so many examples of courage. I am always impacted by Medal of Honor ceremonies and the stories of great heroes both past and present. I never tire of the heroes of the faith that are written in Old and New Testaments of the Bible as well.
David killing Goliath with a sling and smooth stone, Daniel facing lions, Joshua, the warrior, marching around Jericho, and many more biblical stories are never tiresome.
Men and women who fight for the rest of us have my deepest respect and honor, but if we look around us we will discover so many other examples to give us impetus to stand when our time comes to do so for whatever reason.
In July 2016 our family got to watch an example up close and personal as one of our three granddaughters (Sydney) faced the painful surgery necessary to place titanium rods on both sides of her spinal column to correct scoliosis. I shared that story in a blog post then as she expressed so much faith in the Lord providing as she entered surgery. There was also the truth of the testing that occurred when the Lord did not prevent or quickly remove the excruciating pain and our granddaughter wondered where the Lord was.
We watched as Sydney fought through this trial with tears and then determinedly fought again to regain her strength, endurance, and as much flexibility as possible in the months following that surgery.
One of the things she had done just before surgery was to face and pass her yellow belt test in karate. Her instructor believed in her and that facing that challenge would aid her courage for what lay ahead in the surgery and healing process. (He was right.)
Over these two years we have seen glimpses of how Sydney has grown stronger physically and spiritually. Over and over again we have seen the evidences of what she said as a toddler on more than one or two occasions: “Don’t under estimate me!”
You see she was and is the shortest and smallest of her siblings (that will never be what you notice if you spend five minutes with her) and this statement was a reminder of how tall and strong she was and intended to be on the inside. She also diligently worked physically and spiritually to grow into that which she desired to become and she knew it would come through the Lord’s help. I cannot help but wonder if it was He who put that determination in her long before she knew what it would mean and what would be needed to gain that strength and courage.
Sydney’s return to karate was something she was excited about and this week she faced her next belt test to move to green. It was not going to be easy. There were many aspects to the test including fighting for 20 minutes many who were stronger and more advanced than she. It meant facing the pain and fear of those blows (Her instructor made clear to those who would fight her there were to be no kicks or punches to her spine.), as they would strike her body.
Sydney prayed continually before the day arrived for what this would entail and now when the testing came, she prayed more and harder. As the blows came, struck, and hurt, she grew more tired and called on the Lord to sustain her. She reminded herself of the pain she had endured post surgery that had been worse and encouraged herself to stand and keep fighting.
Once more she prevailed and now wears a green belt when she goes to karate practice. It is more than just a belt. It represents so much hard work and a great deal of courage and growth in faith.
Sydney is not the only child or grandchild to progress through belt tests in karate. (It is a serious disciplined sport.) But as we watch her life unfold during her teen years, we see how her approach to life makes all the difference no matter what she faces. She doggedly embraces the truth of who God is and how He moves in our lives and entrusts herself to Him without reservation. She has learned over and over again that the way to defeat fear is to face it. (She even learned that when she feared riding roller coasters and made herself do it repeatedly to conquer that fear.)
Look around you and I am sure you will discover examples of courage in your corner of the world as well.
In the midst of a darkening world and growing fear, we are called to stand, to be light, to find courage.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”