Last night my wife, grandson and I had the special treat of going out to dinner with my sister and my brother-in-law. On the way in to the restaurant, Jack asked how my chemotherapy was going and how I was doing. I explained with the chemo that the side effects usually drag on in one way or another for 10 days or so and that since this was day 11 I was feeling pretty good and since with Thanksgiving it also meant 10 more days before my next chemo I was feeling excited and extremely good.
A little later in the conversation, he said something to the effect, “You are showing a lot of courage in battling your cancer.”
My answer was something like this, “No courage here, I’m just walking through what I have no choice but to walk through. There are no options.”
“Well, I couldn’t do it.”
“Oh, if you had asked me if I could do it before faced with it I would have said, ‘No way.’ In fact, the week before my surgery I knew I could not go through colon surgery again … the memories of the last surgery were too painful.”
So what exactly is courage? WordWeb defines courage (sorry about another definition Corban) as a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without fear. (FYI – bravery has the exact same definition).
Once I had visited the dictionary, I went to the Bible (I know … I got my order backwards).
There are 10 occurrences of the phrase ‘Be strong and courageous’ in the Bible … all Old Testament references. Here is my favorite …
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
Interestingly enough, there is no reference to the word courageous in the New Testament … so I took a back-door approach and searched on the phrase “do not be afraid” … and found a dozen references.
And you know what the justification given for a lack of fear was in every passage …
JESUS IS WITH YOU!
Thank you Lord! Fear and doubt seek to undermine faith … and often succeed. As believers, any courage or bravery we exhibit is grounded in the belief and trust that Jesus is with us, that He will fight our dangers, that he will carry us through the pain and suffering!
(BTW – the “do not be afraid” phrase appears many times in the OT as well … why? Because God is with you.)
So the next time (if indeed, there is a next time) someone complements me on courage, my response will be a little bit different …
“Courage … no, what you see is my faith and trust IN Christ Jesus and that faith enables me to face danger and/or pain without fear.”
Thanks for the lesson Lord … I needed that.