“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
—Joshua 1:9 (NRSV)
Jump from the burning building to a certain death or die from fire—not much of a choice in living your last moments. Courage can be a thing of life and death. What else could prevail?
As relatives and friends consider the obvious stark gravity that was laid before the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks they are compelled to redefine courage by those terms. When death is imminent there’s no going through the motions.
Courage comes to the fore when adrenaline shoots through the veins of crisis. With no choice, the geographically forlorn resolved to do, that horrible day, what we cannot even contemplate. Each one is a hero or heroine.
Do Not Veer Off Course
The central theme of early Joshua is obedience as an ally to conquest. If the nation of Israel were prepared to obey the law, not turning to the left or the right of it, the Lord would bless their strength and courage.
Journeying through this book on the way to the Promised Land we find that strength and courage were absolute necessities. Not many of us could understand the clear and present danger in their context. Our lives are not typically threatened daily, and our conquests are generally mild and self-apportioned. We get away, generally, with disobedience.
Courage and obedience come together to the blessing of our plans in the Lord.
But beyond the blessing, courage and obedience are still found entwined.
Our September 11 heroes and heroines found themselves in this territory. Obedience had one line. No other choice remained. Their courage, for simply being in that moment, will live on as an indelible legacy.
The Provision of Courage – A Fact Of Life
No true hero is found that way by intention.
Heroism is commonly found in the shrivelling fearful, but those without a choice; the way of obedience made plain and inevitable. This is why most people who are tagged “heroes” are that way reluctantly so. At the time they had no choice, or they made a split-second choice. They obeyed their instinct.
Courage comes as a necessity to get through the most impossible situations life can deliver. Let us not assume that because we are safely cocooned in our present lives that life will remain that way.
If we were thrust into a situation where alternatives to courage were to all but dry up, the Lord would then provide the courage to get through. Let us be thankful if we’ve never experienced this, not fearful for the possibility of it in the future, and prepared in any case.
We will have the capacity for strength and courage when we need it. God will see to that. At these times, obedience is predictable but, nonetheless, commendable. We should revere the memory of the September 11 heroes and heroines who epitomised unenviable courage and obedience.
Strength and courage form an unconquerable alliance with the Presence of God. God’s Presence is with us always, and, when we add our strength and courage to continue onward, we have everything we need to faithfully endure.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.