The English word “courage” comes form the Latin root cor which means “heart.”
Courage does not mean never being afraid or feeling insecure. The courageous person is not the one who is arrogant, aggressive, and overly self-confident. Courage is not necessary where there are never doubts and uncertainties.
The courageous person is the one who, in spite of fear, stays deeply connected to the heart. To be courageous is to be “in the heart.”
The heart is that place where everything can be held. It is the place where we can accept that we are frightened, insecure and unsure of ourselves.
To be “in the heart” is to know that there is room for every emotion, every event, and every person that enters our lives. We do not need to reject our fears and our doubts.
We do not need to convince ourselves that we are not feeling our feelings. When we are “in the heart” we can stop pretending that we are different than we know ourselves to be; we no longer need to look away from the inevitable troubles and the tragedies of life.
When we are living “in the heart” our feelings do not overwhelm us. We are not controlled by our fears, anxieties, or insecurities. We know they are only feelings. Like the monsters who lived beneath our bed when we were children, when we crawl under there and take a look, we find they have no power to threaten our lives.
The heart is that place where we know there is a power and a truth greater and more real than anything about which we might ever be frightened. “In the heart” we know that we are not alone. We are held in the force of goodness and light that created the universe and is present with us no matter what our experience might be.
When we live from that deep place “in the heart,” we discover strength much deeper than the superficial bluster of the person who never appears to be fearful. Living “in the heart” puts us in touch with that true strength that is present no matter how we may be feeling on the surface of our lives.
In the Apocryphal Book “The Prayer of Manasseh,” the writer guides the reader on the path to courage saying to God,
now I bend the knee of my heart, imploring you for your kindness. (v.11)
When I “bend the knee of my heart” my eyes are opened. I begin to be able to identify the forces I have given control over my life. I choose instead to surrender only to the force of life that is God.
When I implore God for God’s kindness, I acknowledge that there is nothing other than the kindness of God that can meet the deepest longings I experience.
I am afraid because I have allowed myself to believe there is some reality other than God that has something I need. I have accepted the fantasy that there is something in the world I cannot let go of. But, when I am honest, I know that, ultimately, everything in the world will eventually be taken from me anyway.
True courage means looking boldly and clearly at the insufficiency of the things of this world and finding at the same time the presence of God at the heart of my being.
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:37,38)
The Book of Revelation promises that those who trust in Jesus,
will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heart;
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to the springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:16,17)
This is not a prophecy simply for the end of time. This is a promise for daily living.
There is an indestructible core at the heart of our being, a river of “living water” that flows inexhaustibly and can never be hurt. This is the place of ultimate safety that no force on earth can undo. Staying “in the heart” where I know this power is the key to courage.