What does courage under COVID-19 look like? We’ve all heard the term “courage under fire”. It is generally used to describe one’s behavior under duress or when one is facing extreme danger. It describes the heroic efforts of a person who defers their own personal safety for the betterment or life of another. COVID-19 is definitely a fire that is consuming not only our nation, but also the world. So what’s the connection between courage and the coronavirus?
A time for courage
Our nation is at a precipice (a very steep rock face or cliff, especially a tall one). Our public health systems are strained and our financial prowess has been weakened. The death count from the pandemic is growing exponentially. This “cliff” is the coronavirus.
As we prepare to reopen our country, we need to position ourselves to make the hard decisions required to move our nation through this very dangerous period. When will businesses open? Will I still have a job? When will our schools resume normal operations? How do we reopen America safely?
To answer these tough questions, we will need courage; courage to create innovative and diverse options to navigate safely into a new world. This new world will be very different than when we first began. It will be a world that will also require God’s wisdom to succeed.
Critical decisions will be made by public officials both locally and nationally that will undoubtedly impact how we will operate for months—perhaps even years to come. The question is this. Do we have the courage to make the right decisions—decisions that are best for all the people?
The word courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain, without fear. Brené Brown, professor, lecturer, and author adds additional fodder for us to consider concerning courage.
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”
Courage has also been described as the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, even death or threat of death. Moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
The question for America is, “are we willing to exercise moral courage in order to move us through this next phase of COVID-19?”
Moral courage in action
Jesus knew the Disciples would need both physical and moral courage. In Matthew 10 he prepares his disciples for their missionary trip to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. While Jesus equipped then spiritually to perform their duties, he also gave them specific instructions as to how they were to respond to the attacks they would invariably encounter.
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Verses 16-18, 21-22)
Jesus knew that the Disciples He chose to build the Kingdom of God would be faced with establishing a new normal. As a result of Christ’s death and resurrection, life as mankind knew it, would never be the same. Relationships within families would change for those who would follow Christ (Luke 18:28-29). Business practices would change (Luke 19:8). Even worship would look very different (Acts 4:32-35). It would not be possible to return to business as usual. After COVID-19, we will not be able to return to business as usual.
The Disciples would not only need physical courage in implementing the Great Commission but also moral courage as they faced popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, and personal loss.
Jesus knew the Disciples might be tempted to return to the old way of living life, but He cautiously warned them to show their courage by doing the morally right thing (Matt. 10:28): And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Just as Jesus prepared his Disciples for the new normal that would change the world, we too must be prepared for the radical changes that will be needed as we emerge from our shelter in place. And how will we emerge? Will we operate out of fear because of the potential scarcity of food, lack of jobs, and loss of income? Or will we be more aware, more compassionate, and willing to help others in need? Will we have the courage to participate in the creation of something better than we had before?
What does courage look like under COVID-19?
As COVID-19 continues to move across this nation and shelter in place orders are lifted, we hear the cries of a fractured and divided nation. Mask or unmask? Life or livelihood? Essential versus unessential workers. Worker safety or food on the grocery shelves. We need courage and God’s guidance to help us decide what is best for our communities, our country and our world.
Courage was once thought to originate from the heart. Courage under COVID-19 begins with the realization that the “greater good” supersedes any personal rights we may currently possess. It describes a new moral model for understanding that we are inexplicably connected to each other not only by our desire to eradicate COVID-19 but also by our humanity. Join us next week as we continue our discussion on courage under COVID-19.