For some people, just facing daily life takes courage. The news too often fills the heart with despair, and along with family or relationship problems, illness, or financial strain, one could feel overwhelmed. Yet each day millions of people persevere and overcome even the most hopeless situations.
Stories of the brave sacrifices made by men and women during times of war fill the pages of books and the screens of movie theaters. And most kids grow up hearing tales of explorers taking desperate risks in all kinds of adventures, from scaling high mountains to treasure hunting in the deep seas. But what of the quieter, humbler acts of courage that people undertake every day - the courage to stand for ethical standards, to say no to dishonesty, to choose constructive activity over apathy, or to side with an unpopular but worthy cause? These decisions may not be recounted in adventure stories, but they're deeply valuable. They provide the signposts to a world that is not chaotic and cold, but to one where promise and progress are basic human rights.
Jesus' life offers a timeless study in courage. For example, in the face of ridicule, when people "laughed him to scorn" because he claimed that a synagogue leader's daughter who was reported dead was actually only "sleeping," he courageously acted on his convictions - and healed her. He ignored the taunts because he knew that God's law was of life, never of death (see Mark 5:22-24, 35-43).
Jesus' acts of courage were magnificent, but he also showed the humility to be courageous in small ways - as in the story of inviting a tax collector, Zaccheus, to dine with him when others spurned the man. Or when he asked his disciples to wait so he could determine who had touched his robe in the middle of a throng of people. He relied so completely on God's direction for even the simplest and most immediate decisions of his life.
Nineteen hundred years later, Mary Baker Eddy also found that with God's help, her courage was sufficient to meet any formidable task. Faced with debilitating illness, poverty, and homelessness, this New England Christian and thought-leader discovered a source of spiritual courage that was infinite, providing the foundation she needed to persevere in the daily struggles of life as well as to bring forth her discovery of God's laws of healing, which she named Christian Science.
Rising above what looked like overwhelming odds during an era when women's rights were minimal, she accomplished what might have seemed unimaginable to her at an earlier time in her life - the writing of a book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," that has changed the lives of countless thousands of readers; and the founding of a college that taught metaphysics and healing, a worldwide Church, three magazines, and an international newspaper. Acknowledging the source of what enabled the master Christian, Jesus, to achieve so much, she could also have been talking about her own life when she wrote, "Immortal courage fills the human breast and lights the living way of Life" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," page 191).
Mary Baker Eddy knew the source of her own and of everyone else's courage to be God. And as these exemplary lives attest, trusting God's promise of unceasing love can give each of us the courage to step outside our own comfort zones and extend ourselves beyond what we presently imagine we can do for humanity.
The world needs our courage. And not just acts of bravery. The world needs, as the word courage implies, our mental and moral strength to persevere. In an age caught up in wars and corporate corruption, each act of selflessness contributes to the world's good, and proves that humanity is inherently loving and compassionate. These acts put the lie to the inevitability of war and corruption, and show the truth that, as the Lord's Prayer promises, "Thy kingdom come." Not will come, but is come, now.
Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God
is with thee
whithersoever thou goest.