Two warrior are remembering how another warrior was killed in battle. “Some say he died bravely,” one of the warriors recalled with a hint of pride and approval.
The other countered, “Others say he was afraid.”
“Is it possible to be brave if you’re afraid?” the first asked.
“That is the only time you can be brave.”1
Courage, they say, is fear walking. It is not the absence of fear, but the acknowledgement that something is bigger, faster, and stronger. Living only in this acknowledgement make fear the master.
Coronavirus is spreading uncontrollably and the world responds with fear.
The stock market is doing cartwheels and triggering reactions of fear.
A soldier faces his return home to his family and a civilian world of finding a job and driving in traffic with post-traumatic stress and uncertainty.
Middle-schoolers who are bullied can’t face going to school another day.
Fear. It’s real. But if that is all we have, all we face, all there is to the situation, then there is no hope.
The Bible frequently urges, “Don’t be afraid.” This is not denying the existence of fear, but rather calling us to acknowledge that fear is not the master, not in control, not the last word.
There is something bigger, fast and stronger, for sure! But we belong to someone who is even bigger, faster and stronger. My God is the Lord over all. And over me.
It’s okay to be afraid. It’s good to be afraid. As long as at the same time, with the same measure, I am brave because God’s promises make me so. That’s courage.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (Psalm 46:1,2).
PRAYER: Teach me that it’s okay to be afraid, God, as long as fear is servant and not master. Strengthen my faith, and my resolve to face my fears with your promising word. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Where do you see fear in you and around you? Have something to say about it. Something that God says, like in Psalm 46. Be gentle with those who are afraid, yet strong and firm in the promises of God. Address out-of-control anxiousness in your own heart and the hearts of others. Your strength is not in you, but in the Lord who is God over all.
1George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones (New York: Bantam Books, 1996), 16 (adapted).