These days call for great courage but how do we get it? It takes courage to stand up to bullies. It takes courage to speak the truth in love. It takes courage to fall in love. It takes courage to leave someone we love but sometimes we need to do that too.
How do we get courage? Do we simply “have” it somewhere deep inside? Or do we “take” it from someplace else?
Greek word studies from Bible verses don’t help much.
And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2
“Take heart” seems tame. Other translators say “be of good cheer.” Imagine that you are crying your eyes out while drooling on yourself and making dying animal sounds and some fool says, “Be of good cheer.”
The Greek word is θαρσέω (tharseo) which literally means something like “be you having courage” or “be bolstered from within which supports unflinching courage.” A mouthful.
I like the idea of Taking Courage. We saw that sign painted on a building in London and maybe “taking” versus “having” is a semantic difference. Brits say “take” and we say “have.”
But consider this: Scripture tells us many times that God will give us what we need. Maybe we won’t get what we want, but we will get what we need.
- The people wanted a political ruler. They got a poor rabbi who loved them enough to die for them.
- The people wanted power. They got a teacher who told them to love people without power (“the least of these”)
I could go on and on but you get it. Maybe God grants us courage deep within and when we need it, it shows up. But what if it’s something that comes from outside ourselves? What if we can’t possibly find in ourselves what we deeply need?
Imagine that God presents us with an overflowing platter of gifts every day: courage, patience, hope, goodwill, generosity, faith, love, resilience. We can have anything we need from that platter if we will only take it. Usually we either ignore the platter or we pick around it or we refuse what’s on it.
Especially in these days, we need to take courage off that platter and use it for the sake of other people and ourselves. It’s a scary time, people.
Take courage. Just take it. I believe God is offering it to us.