(See the first part of this series here.)
Today we’re talking about courage…
Courage to take God into our storms.
One thing we can all unanimously agree on is that life is not easy. Jesus never hesitated to make this clear to his disciples:
“In this world you will have trouble…”
This world has been broken and we all experience its brokenness daily. The days that we view to be perfect are few and far between, typically outweighed by days are a struggle in some form or another. It is in the face of these daily “storms” that, as Christians, we are meant to carry our cross, to never stop “running the race,” to finish while also continuing to “fight the good fight.”
This holy expectation is much more easily said than done. When we face life as we know it, with all of its uncompromising and unaccommodating realities, it can be a challenge to “just have faith.” Using our own power to manipulate a situation or force an outcome seems more appealing and realistic than turning toward a higher, and unseen power. Turning to God and seeking His direction and power is always something that, as Christians, we know we ought to do but is more often than not something we feel is quite impossible to do.
When we hear the word, “courage,” we often conjure up images of a person who takes on a situation in a way that is not typical, a way quite unlike the way the rest of us would. We apply it to soldiers, firefighters and people suffering severe oppression without giving up or quitting. We wish we had more of it, or any of it. Courage is not normal. It’s fitting for the superheroes among us, but not something that the average person can ever entirely possess.
Courage is simply doing something that most people would not because of fear, whether of harm or failure or anything else. It’s to do something that seems unlikely to succeed but admirable to attempt. In addressing courage through these eyes that we see the heart of Christianity.
Christianity was, at its foundation, inauspicious. In a quick overview of the initial years of this new religious sect called “The Way,” it is a surprise that it ever went anywhere beyond the neighborhoods nestled in the hill towns dispersed throughout Israel, let alone expand into the global faith that it is today. In its delicate beginnings, there was every reason to believe that this sect would quickly die out, and that the world would soon forget or never hear the name ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ within several decades of his death. As for the Christians that followed Jesus and continued to preach the Gospel, there was every reason to believe that their message would die out as they gradually did. These men and women held no powerful social standing or political influence to make their growing faith a force to reckon with. They were predominantly peasants and outcasts, with limited resources, preaching a word that condemned them to brutal persecution and social oppression. However, regardless of the dire state of things, they continued to believe, they continued to preach and they continued to experience the living God.
From day to day we all encounter difficulties that seem hopeless or at least try us, emotionally or physically. These difficulties could reduce faith in Jesus to wishful thinking or outlandish mythology. But upon reaching this crossroad it is clear that only one road requires courage and the other does not. Taking on our problems ourselves is not only void of courage but, as a Christian, quite pathetic. To seek the power that was despised and rejected, to seek the council of the Spirit that no one understands is to do the one thing that no one would expect you to do. Holding true to a minority position often requires courage. It is in the minority that a Christian truly finds Jesus. Considering this, the choice to take Jesus into the storms of our lives is courageous. In doing so, we find common ground with our brothers and sisters of the early Church. Their choice to take Jesus to every storm they encountered paved the way for us. They witnessed the end of the statement of Jesus as well as the beginning:
“In this world, you will have trouble…”
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”