Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What does courage look like to you?

Think about the brave people in your life. Maybe you think of your parents, firefighters, soldiers, or even someone like your favorite musicians when they take the stage. Maybe you envision someone who’s more of a risk-taker, who is more carefree and lives life on the edge.

Courage doesn’t have to be dressed up in glitz, glamour, or fierce colors. It doesn’t have to be loud, nor does it need to demand the attention of others. Courage can be found in ordinary people facing their fears every day. Bravery is found when someone steps up for someone who is being bullied or put down. Courage speaks loud and clear in a calm, reassuring voice when someone stares down their anxieties and says, “You will not rule me, and I will overcome you.”

This Pentecost, let us focus on our great God’s gift of courage.

First, let’s rewind to the very first Pentecost. The apostles, who had witnessed Jesus’ Passion, crucifixion, and death, were huddled together inside of a locked room for fear of persecution. And rightfully so, because only they knew the real truth – Jesus had conquered death and Hell itself, appeared to them and performed signs and wonders before them, and ascended into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. They knew that He’s alive, but they feared preaching the truth to naysayers. They feared persecution, torture, and death.

Suddenly, “there came from Heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2-4) The followers of Jesus were given the gift of courage to step outside and the ability to speak in different languages to proclaim the truth that day, “and there were added that day about 3,000 souls.” (Acts 2:41)

These gifts that were bestowed upon the apostles are given to us as well. The Holy Spirit allows us to endure the difficulties that life hands us, gives us the courage to stand up for what’s right, and helps us stand strong against our fears. It gives us hope in the face of despair. It is the voice that cries out, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

When fear and doubt creep into our lives, it can paralyze us, make us lose confidence in ourselves, and make us question everything we know to be true. When you find yourself getting caught up in a sea of anxiety and dread, turn to the Lord and pray for a spirit of courage. The Holy Spirit will come alongside you when you are worried or afraid and will remind you to remain steadfast in the Lord, for our God is never far from us.

This Pentecost, let us make it our mission to share the courage of the Holy Spirit with others. May we reach out to others and act as an anchor for them when they need us. May we pull over to help the person stranded from a flat tire on the road during a hot summer day. May we listen to our weary coworker’s worries with patience, wisdom, understanding, and love. May we actively check on the people who need support in our neighborhoods, especially the sick and the elderly. And may we always have the courage to stand up for what’s right, even if it is unpopular or will win us nothing but ridicule.

Jesus tells us to be brave and take risks for all that is good. Whenever you feel fear start to creep in and whisper poisonous lies in your ears, remember the singular phrase that appears throughout Scripture: “Do not fear!” May we always pray for a spirit of courage and give of ourselves in the name of Jesus, the Lord of all.