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A life of courage

From the May 30, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


We all admire courage when we see it. We often think of it being exemplified by men and women in the military, or by others caught in war zones. We see it in acts of bravery by police officers, rescue crews, reformers, and others.

But courage is needed throughout the vast scope of human life, by all of us. Parents often need courage in seeking to do what’s best for their children. Schoolteachers may need it to deal with difficulties in the classroom. Business owners may have to resist pressures to use unethical means in conducting their businesses. Even teens often need courage to quietly stand up to intense peer pressure or bullying at school, and live and act in accord with their highest sense of what’s right.

Whatever the circumstances, true courage is a moral quality that ultimately has its source in God and partakes of genuine goodness. It’s manifested in a humble stand for what is right, or a selfless willingness to do what is difficult, in order to bless others.

Courage is also manifested in the willingness to follow and trust God, to trust the unseen spiritual realities of our eternal relationship to Him as His loved child. The Bible speaks of Abraham, who left the land of his kindred and the worship of idols, because he had come to understand that there is one God, the infinite Spirit, divine Love, who is made known to us throughout the Bible. The book of Hebrews says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (11:8).

God had become very real to Abraham. He didn’t know where he was going, but through his innate spiritual sense he heard God’s call distinctly, and he followed God’s leading with implicit trust.

We all have opportunities, in small or large ways, to exercise such courage, through our God-given spiritual sense. “Wait on the Lord,” says the Bible: “be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalms 27:14). When we sincerely turn to God and lean on Him for help, God does strengthen our heart. He expresses in us the capacity to do right, in whatever direction is needed. Unfailing Spirit, infinite Love, motivates and animates all right action in us, and sustains us under every difficulty.

With each experience in relying on divine Love, we gain more courage, trust, and confidence.

Some years ago I learned more about courage. I had what seemed to be a circulation problem in one of my legs, and it frightened me. It came during a period when I was feeling anything but courageous. I felt vulnerable and unsure of my own ability to rely on God for healing. I worked with a Christian Science practitioner, who helped me see the importance of patiently trusting God during difficulties, even when I didn’t feel spiritually strong myself. That was the light I needed right at that moment, and I found the courage to move forward. I was able to continue on my own, praying for myself and trusting God, despite the continuing physical problem.

Though I still struggled with fear, I prayed often to affirm what isn’t seen physically but is perceivable through spiritual sense—that God is All, He is good, and He alone was governing me. I also prayed about the normalcy of right action—that God was expressing in me the harmonious flow and circulation of right ideas in my conscious being as the expression of God, divine Mind. As I prayed patiently, the sense of vulnerability gradually gave way to spiritual understanding, and at some point I discovered that the healing had taken place when I wasn’t paying attention! Not only was my leg healed, but my life had taken on a much livelier sense of activity and purpose, as well.

Whatever type of challenge we face, the courage we need arises through the influence of divine Love, which comes to our heart that is earnestly striving to lean on Love. “In the desolation of human understanding, divine Love hears and answers the human call for help; and the voice of Truth utters the divine verities of being which deliver mortals out of the depths of ignorance and vice” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 81).

Those words were written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. As they indicate, it’s Truth itself that bestows the strength and understanding we need. Truth is our Savior, the Christ, which Jesus demonstrated in his compassionate mission to heal and save. Christ Jesus’ works verified his assurance, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

So if we’re struggling, we shouldn’t assess our prospects for healing by our own abilities or understanding. We should assess those prospects by our eternal oneness with God and God’s love for us. Infinite Spirit is even now our life and our health. Spirit, Love, is supporting us, sustaining us, even if we seem to be struggling, until the healing comes. Turning humbly to God brings the first inklings of assurance and trust, strengthening us to move forward patiently. With each experience in relying on divine Love, we gain more courage, trust, and confidence. In fact, courage increasingly becomes natural to us, because trusting God becomes natural to us.

Wherever God leads us, or whenever opportunities open up to serve others—or whatever difficulties we may face—the humble courage to trust God steadies us, as we grow in spiritual understanding and discover God’s ever-present care, guidance, and healing power.

David C. Kennedy

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