There is absolutely no one in the world who has lived a full life without fear. We’ve all felt it. From little fears of our childhood about monsters in the dark to very real fears in adulthood over safety and security. Fear touches everyone. There are so many verses dedicated to the presence of fear and our need for courage, it’s almost as if God anticipated what a common theme it would be in human history.
But however common it is in our world, we so very often fight just as hard to keep it from view. It is viewed, consciously or otherwise, as something unmentionable and shameful. Pay attention to how someone reacts after being caught in a moment of fear. Their attitude very often becomes one of embarrassment and backtracking. Don’t look at that. They seem to say, I should have been better than that. I should have been braver.
Courage is an elusive concept to begin with, and in those moments when fear sweeps through us it’s easy to feel that we have let ourselves down and are devoid of any courage. We want all of the courage with none of the fear, never pausing to consider that they aren’t necessarily exclusive events.
Fear does not negate courage.
In fact, the presence of fear is our best indication that whatever courage may follow will be intelligent. Fear, after all, serves a purpose however much we may not like the sensation. It alerts us to danger and tells us to pay attention. Fear serves a purpose. It’s not the presence of fear that defines us so much as what we do with it.
But that still leaves us with the question of how we’re meant to find courage. Where is it found? How do you get it? Having fear is a simple thing, having courage a little less so. So which way does courage lie?
The quickest path between fear and courage is the one that goes straight through fear itself.
Not around, through. You can’t sneak around fear when dealing with it. Don’t even bother. Through is the only way. Because the act of moving through fear begets the courage we so deeply desire.
In the same way that runners improve through running, one develops courage by being courageous. You have to work through it to have it. It takes work, but it yields results. Fear is not standing in the way of you having courage but rather it is the catalyst for courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear but rather a mastery of its presence. Ask anyone with experiences that required courage. Experiences full of danger and terror where they had to step up and perform. I’d wager that no matter the experience, they all share in the presence of fear. And yet they still found courage because they knew that they were more than their fear. They knew that they had to put aside what they were feeling and still act. Because that’s the difference between fear and courage.
Fear is a feeling, but courage is a choice.
We may very well feel afraid but choose to be courageous. It’s the exclusivity of their classifications that allows them to exist at the same time with us. In that regard, fear is not something to be ashamed of or hidden. If anything, it is something to be admired. What could be more courageous than feeling fear (and everything that entails) and acting anyway? God made us to be so much more than our fear and gave us so much to work with to be courageous. After all, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7). You have been equipped for fear and there will always be a way through to courage.
Courage through fear, my friends.
Let’s find some joy,