The definition of bravery is the quality or state of showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. Showing no fear in times of trouble does not mean there is no fear. It means walking into a scary time prepared to meet the challenge. Brave comes from the word bravo, which means bold.
Currently, we find ourselves in need of bravery. We are facing difficulty and danger unlike we have faced before. We are laughing and joking, but that is a cover. We are shaking in our shoes. When faced with the unknown, especially the unknown regarding living and dying, we are uncomfortable. The unknown about our future and what this all means in the long run is hard to deal with. Reality hits us between the eyes and we must face our mortality whether we like it or not. Having control of our lives is an illusion. The crisis we are in shatters the illusion and wakes us up to the reality that we have no control. It is a terrifying wake-up call. Ask any cancer patient.
The real issue is not the fear, it is facing it. Looking deeply into its eyes and seeing an unknown future. Our hearts melt. Our hands tremble. We lose sleep. It is not hard to say we are afraid, it is hard to BE afraid. To sit with our fear and to harbor it does not bode well in our souls. It steals our peace. It incites our imagination against us. It causes us to question everything. The ghost shadows, which appear and disappear in our minds, have us twisting and turning, wondering and waiting for the worst to happen.
Some would say we must ignore our fears; that to be brave means we disregard our fears all together; and to ‘give in’ to them is weak and shows a lack of faith. I would disagree. Pretending we are not afraid isn’t helpful. It bottles up our emotion, which turns on us in the form of depression, or anxiety that eats us alive. Not to mention, it doesn’t change our circumstances. We are still in the same situation, so wishing it away is not possible. False hope is self-induced trickery that fools no one but ourselves, because it allows us to live in denial. It creates the masks we hide behind that all is well, when indeed nothing could be farther from the truth.
Standing up and saying, “I am afraid” is a more honest approach. When we tell ourselves and others the truth, it breaks the power of fear. In being vulnerable enough to say, ‘I am scared and I don’t know what is going to happen,’ we open the door for others who feel the same way, to step through. It turns the light on and the shadows flee. It puts us all in the same boat and in that place, we find deeper connection with one another.
Once we have looked at our fear, bravery is born. Funny how that works. We admit we are powerless and then we find our resolve. We grieve our loss and then we are empowered to move beyond it. We have been hiding for a long time…long before this crisis. The crisis simply exposed what was already there. The frenzy, the panic, it has been buried deep inside. Our hearts are anxious because we have not understood what we are doing to ourselves. Now, we see it clearly.
This season of waiting is not optional. It is a mandate, not from the government, but from God. The whole world is on hold. What better time to take stock? When will we have another season to reevaluate things? What have we been waiting on? The telephoto lens is focusing in on the small details of life, while the big picture is unclear. We cannot control what is going on outside, but internally we can make peace with ourselves and God. We can be bold, and open our hearts to him. We can tell him our fears, and in the process find our courage.
We can use social distancing to be brave and honest and true with each other…from a distance at first, then when the ban is lifted, we can run with joy to embrace our new-found appreciation of each other. We are intricately linked. We cannot be separated. Our common humanity is our strength, while at the same time our diversity is a gift. Every tribe and every nation are part of our human family. Love will overcome our fear and win the day. Love always wins.
Resolve is a firm determination to do something bold. In the face of fear, resolve is required. It is the fuel of bravery. It moves forward, it doesn’t run away. It is what moves us, despite the fear. Courage is born, bravery rises up and resolve does not falter. So, even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not fear evil, for God is with me; his rod and staff, they comfort me, for he is my shepherd. He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil for the task he has given me; my cup overflows with his blessings. Surely his goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell with him forever.
We want to be brave. We want to face our fear and be free from it. We ask for your resolve to walk into the unknown, with peace. We ask for our eyes to be opened to the truth of where we stand. Thank you for the time you are giving us to take stock of our lives. Help us to see where we need to make course corrections.
Help us to be honest about the state of our hearts. Let our honesty about our fears draw us together. May it give us compassion for one another. Bring us unity. As we allow you to take the logs out of our own eyes, give us your vision.
We relinquish our efforts to control things that we cannot. We lay all of those details at your feet. We bow our knee. We humble ourselves. We wait on you. We trust you are for us and you are working all this for our good.
We don’t understand all of what is happening, but we ask you to calm our fears in the midst of our confusion. We know you are not the author of confusion, and that your love casts out fear. We have said those verses thousands of times…help us now not to just say them, but to walk in those truths.
We want to do more than talk about you. We want to do more than read your words. We want to live them out with you…beside you. We focus on you and we let everything else go. We know you never leave or forsake us, and we thank you that you can use even these crazy times to show us we are not abandoned. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to practice what we say we believe. Give us the courage to do it. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.