Courage and Grace

Life takes courage. Facing life with courage means that we move through our fear, pain, or grief whether or not we think or feel that we can. There are many things in life that require courage. Losing loved ones to death, facing serious or terminal illness, divorce, losing all of your possessions to disaster, and maybe just listening to the news at night all require courage. Where does courage come from? Where do you find courage?

We some times think that courage is something demonstrated only by heroes. But it takes courage to keep showing up for your dreams when things have taken a bad or unexpected turn. It takes courage to face an unexpected injury or illness.

To me, courage is a belief in the power of grace. It is knowing that the power of grace is big enough and strong enough to get me through anything that life might throw at me. Grace can be thought of as an advance—being given something that you don’t posses like courage and strength, as you need it. It’s like having a line of credit with Heaven that always covers your emotional/mental/spiritual needs.

When my last child was born 21 years ago, I was overcome with anxiety that something awful was going to happen to him. I kept thinking of how in the world I would ever cope if I were to lose a child. The thought frightened me and caused me a lot of stress for several months. I knew it was an irrational fear but the fact that it happens to so many people kept it in my mind and I wondered if I had the courage to deal with such a devastating loss.

Finally, I was so frustrated and sick of the worry that I gave the whole problem over to God. I realized that I couldn’t carry the anxiety of what might happen with me all of the time. The worry about what might happen was sapping my joy for living in the present. I chose to accept that God would help me through whatever might cross my path and give me the grace to cope one day at a time.

Life gave me many other challenges that required my trusting God to help me cope and face my fears. I didn’t lose my child, but I lost just about everything else, more than once. Through each difficult experience I was given grace, offered in the form of courage to keep moving through my fear and grief.

Facing a diagnosis of cancer, losing a spouse or child, going through a divorce, losing a job, or whatever else life can dish out requires the courage to keep on going. Asking God for the strength you need one day at a time provides the grace and courage we need to make it through difficult times. It sounds like such a simple thing but there is great power in asking. Jesus reminded us that we need only ask and it will be given to us. When we ask for our soul needs to be met, this prayer is always answered.

In fact, He goes on to say that God can be compared to a generous father who longs to give his child good things. “If the son asks for a fish will he give him a stone?” An earthly parent might do this, but not our Heavenly parents. Life can be difficult but the way is made so much easier when we ask for the grace to handle our lives. The Spirit gives us the hero’s heart, developing the strength and fortitude of courage that we will not be overcome but will emerge from our hard, trying times as victors instead of victims.