General Andrew Jackson once said the following: “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in my bed. God has fixed the exact time for my death. I do not concern myself about that; but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”
When I found and read that passage from General Jackson, I realized that I wanted to be brave. Rather “braver” than I am right now. So what does a “brave” person look like? In my humble opinion, a brave person acknowledges the strength of others; being brave is getting back up when you’ve been knocked down; a courageous person (or a person who is brave) will be found in the most unlikely places (JRR Tolkien); and Nelson Mandela described bravery and courage like this: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” I see fear and courage working together. If you did not have any fear there wouldn’t be any courage. I remember reading somewhere a short little quote by John Wayne that I have never forgotten: “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
I’m not writing about bravery and courage because of any particular thing I’m going through. I just found myself inspired by the words. Are they one and the same? I don’t think so.
A courageous person is the firemen who run into the burning building knowing there is a real risk to their lives. A brave person is the woman who jumps into an icy river to save a drowning child. She doesn’t give any thought to the consequences. Courage is more emotional, where bravery is what pushes the fire fighter into that burning house even knowing that he or she could die or be injured. I looked back in the Bible to see what God’s thoughts were about these two words, and Deuteronomy 31:6 jumped out at me: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” In the book of Joshua, anytime that the word “courageous” is used, it’s always with the word “strong”. Psalms and Proverbs are filled with inspiring and comforting words about being brave and courageous.
When I was a young girl, one of my favorite heroins in the Bible was Hadassah (or Queen Esther)…Now that young girl was brave!
It seems that only through “life’s experiences” can you really know if you’ll have the courage/bravery/strength to make it through the next time. Life is a series of experiences. Some smooth and peaceful; some curvy with lots of hills and valleys; some with giant pot holes and barren lands. You can go to sleep tonight having every minute scheduled and lined up, and 24 hrs later your life be in shambles. Life changes on a dime, and it’s imperative that you are in a place where you are absolutely certain that there is a safety net for when you drop. That safety net for me, is the trust I have in my heavenly Father and how faithfully He has loved me with total unconditional love. Courage and bravery? Most times I don’t think I have much of either one, yet having gone through a few very difficult and trying trials by fire, I have learned that courage does not come from trusting in myself; but it comes when my total and complete trust is in the Lord. My strength comes from the Lord. If I depended on me, I would be consumed by fear and doubt. God said He would not put anymore on you than you can bear. He knows me better than I know myself, and wants what is best for me. When I get in the way and try to “fix” things, that’s when things go chaotic. My testimony of trials that I have gone through in my life, are nothing in comparison to what so many others have gone through. We all have experiences that we could share, however, my prayer tonight, is that each one of us grows from these trials, and become strong in the Lord (not in ourselves) and that we keep our eyes on the goal before us: eternal life in the most beautiful place in the world. Heaven!