Bravery of Cowards
This is about facing fears.
Fearlessness is not the same as bravery. The rugged John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
So which is braver: the child who is not afraid to jump off the high board or the one who is afraid of heights but jumps off anyway? One is fearless, so he has no fear to overcome. Not being afraid of what others are afraid of can be admired, surely, and can be of great advantage, particularly in a physical fight, but the person who overcomes fear and does what is difficult because it needs to be done, is being brave. That is courage.
And there is a paradox that goes with this. At least in my experience, when I do what I do not want to do because I am afraid to face the consequences, yet face those frightening consequences, afterwards I feel stronger, maybe proud of myself, and probably trusting more in God who got me through what I feared.
That does not mean I necessary was wrong about the pain of what I feared, just that I got through something that I did not want to have to go through.
I sometimes think of the movie, The Highlander. It is a ridiculous premise about immortals battling until there is only one. What I took from it is that each time one immortal defeated (by beheading) another immortal, the victor became even stronger, taking power from the other he vanquished in moving up the tournament ladder. I believe that each victory over fear makes one stronger for the next battle with fear.
It has not been my experience that facing the dreaded unpleasantness necessarily makes it less unpleasant. Often I try to encourage myself by asking myself, “What is the worst that can happen?” Sometimes the worst I imagined does happen. Sometimes it is even worse than I imagined. But when I get through the experience I wanted to avoid, whether it turned out to be not so bad, just as bad, or worse than I imagined, having gotten through any of those categories makes me feel stronger.
Also, when I need to trust in God, I recall the question which the Lord asked Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” Numbers 11: 23. The correct answer is “No, the Lord’s arm is not too short to deliver you.”
When we trust and obey, we are not alone, and can have the power to overcome fear. Even us chickens, including Moses and John Wayne, can be brave.