I’ve been wondering, where does courage comes from? Streaks and slumps are often tied to courage. It’s in our minds and our hearts. From an armchair, we can holler instructions at our team like God’s gift to coaching, but out on the field it’s a different story. Stakes are real. There’s a fine line between courageous and fool hearty. It’s hard to judge. That in itself may cause doubt. True courage has to be based on something real. We admire it when we see it, even though those with it don’t always win, except in the movies. Something firms up the heart in some people to stand and deliver regardless of the outcome. We’ve all seen it, or at least heard about it. Where can we find courage like that?
The Bible commends courage as faith based on truth expressed in character and actions. We’ve all heard the story of David and Goliath. God called David “A man after my own heart” because of his courage. It’s possible to have true faith that is not based on truth. It’s called presumption and it’s a volatile combination. Some argue that there is no truth. Others argue truth can’t be known. Both are distinctly disingenuous, because we all live as if there is truth. What is magnitudes harder is to accept that there is truth, but that it is largely foreign to us. I think that’s were faith based on truth really begins. It’s honest and pure and humble, amplifying God instead of self.
Courage is not limited to any particular group. Pick your flaw and you’ll still find people in parts of that group showing true courage. The courageous are the ones who show up to do what needs to be done. They are not distracted by opposition or wasteful pursuits. They seem to hone in what’s important and stick to the task. But more than that, they have something unique that makes them stand out. They firmly believe the task they pursue can and will be accomplished. They expect to hit the ball and score. Where does this special ingredient come from?
If you’ve had ten successes in a row, chances are you’re feeling pretty confident. When you step up to the plate, you remember all those other hits and figure you can probably do it again. I don’t think that is necessarily courage. It’s just a feeling about what appears to be a fairly safe bet. Feelings will dissipate after a series of strikeouts. Courage is more than a feeling. It’s what’s needed to come back after setbacks. Some people still believe in their pursuits even after failure. They get back up when dusted. (Maybe not right away, but when they get their breath back into their lungs.) This is the sort of thing I think few of us have. Most of us will give up after a few tries if we get dusted hard. What makes some hearts stronger than others? Is it just pure drive? Superman faith? Not enough sense to know better?
I think some part of true courage must be an ability to free yourself from yourself. If it’s all about you, well, then getting burned a few times seems like a good enough reason to duck and run. At the same time, we can’t discount ourselves. Even Jesus faced the cross for the prize to be gained. We exist for God’s pleasure, as scripture tells it. So he doesn’t want to lose what he values. In some measure, that must be true for the courageous. There is something they value enough to keep pursuing it. Something has meaning to them. It gives them motivation. That thing, whatever it is, makes them stop thinking about all the reasons to give up. Like a camera focusing out the background to bring the object of attention into sharp detail, a firm belief that something is important makes a person give up what is not important to gain it.
Maybe that’s where courage comes from, just believing something is more important than its cost.