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I’m Learning How to Act Courageously

Our nation is in the grips of an epidemic. And I’m not talking about Covid; I’m talking about fear. Yes, Covid is real and we should be prudent. But when we have a vaccine, the fear possessing us will attach to something else unless we learn how to master it. As we look at the heroes of faith in…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Our nation is in the grips of an epidemic. And I’m not talking about Covid; I’m talking about fear. Yes, Covid is real and we should be prudent. But when we have a vaccine, the fear possessing us will attach to something else unless we learn how to master it.

As we look at the heroes of faith in the Bible, the ones that stand out are those who acted with courage. In Acts 4, we see Peter boldly taking on the authorities. 

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” 

The response of the authorities to courage? Astonishment. Courage in a time of fear is rare and makes others ask, “Where is this coming from?” In this case, it seemed like it couldn’t have come from a couple of commoners, so it pointed to Jesus.

Fear is a weapon of the enemy. But it is illusory and ultimately toothless. We see that the bluster and threats of the enemy wilted in the face of their courage.

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

“After further threats they let them go.”

David Whyte, the poet, has helped me to live more courageously. He identifies practical ways to step out and show up. After listening to him, I made my own list. Here are five ways I intend to fight fear and embrace courageous action. Let me encourage you to make your own list.

1. See reality and take responsibility

I am not going to adopt someone else’s narrative. I’m done with blame-shifting. I won’t be a victim. I’m going to look at reality and own the things that are mine. Where I have hurt others, I’m going to apologize. Where I made a mistake, I’m going to learn.

2. Stop hiding

Perhaps like me, you’v’e been hurt by social media. It’s time to get with people face-to-face (albeit behind masks and six feet apart). Our families need us. Our friends need us. If we’re healthy and still standing, our community needs us. It’s time to come out from behind our computers and TVs. I needed to improve a relationship with one of my kids, so I decided to figure out a way to show up in her world more positively.

3. Have the conversation I dread

Earlier this week I wrote about my friend who just died of Covid. 30 years ago, he hurt me deeply. I’d forgiven him, but I needed to have a conversation to release him from the weight of what he’d done. It took courage to have that conversation, but now I’m so glad I did. What conversation do you dread having?

4. Touch the thing you fear

I had to ask, “What are the sources of fear and anxiety in my life?” I worry about the economy and I worry about our lack of friends living in the country as we do. What is it for you? Maybe you’ve gone into debt and don’t see a way out. Who of your friends and family could possibly give you some wise counsel? 

Maybe the issue of racial justice is uncomfortable. Ask God who in your community you could talk to. Summon up the courage.

5. Move toward purpose

Our world has always had problems. And if I feel powerless, it’s time for me to address a few. For example, people in my mom’s retirement home are lonely – I’m going to connect with them when I pick her up today. Who is lonely in your community? The problems crowding our community are actually opportunities for us to make a difference.

I hope this list en-courages you. God tells us that if we are being attacked, we are “more than conquerors.” Isn’t it time to begin to battle with the fear that is wracking our society? Today let’s be the people who move toward courage.

Comments (7)

  • Yes! Good words. Fear has taken out many more victims than covid ever could. Lord, help us to be courageous in all seasons of life.

  • Excellent article! Fear is what the enemy uses to cripple some and bring destruction to others. It never brings life! As Believer’s we need to take hold of the courage and power that is ours, through the Holy Spirit, and confront our fear and help free a lost world from theirs.

    2 Timothy 1:7
    “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind,”

  • I’ve been praying 2 Tim 1:7 with my 9 year old son for the better part of the year. Thanks for the good and practical thoughts, Seth.

  • Yes! En-COURAGE-ment seems to be especially needed in the lives of many today who have succumbed to fear. There are indeed many fearful realities in our present day world, but people can be mindful of risks and still live courageously rather than in fear.

    One of the things that most bothered me most regarding my grandma’s recent death is that I was not allowed to see her yet I would have been willing to die to see her. I was also willing to wear a Hazmat suit if that is what her facility required, quarantine…whatever they said, but I was still denied the gift of being able to be by her side. Though she didn’t have Covid, she was in a ‘Covid’ ward, and I saw a ministry opportunity for those willing to risk to go sit by the bedsides of those who were lonely (as nurses and doctors were understandably overworked). Again, if it took a Hazmat suit and Covid tests to be allowed to do so, it still would have allowed those dying of either loneliness or Covid to have love present at their side.

    What a gift it could have been if I could have been allowed to reach the unreachable and by their bedsides read to them loving letters written by family and friends. If our systems or realities are not humane to the hurting, than I believe we need to look for ways to make them more so. Life is about so much more than merely being kept alive.

    In thinking about the courage especially needed for these times, I recently posted the following on my FB page:

    “I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom & that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.” Dawna Markova

    Early church theology reminds us that “The glory of God is human being fully alive,” and these days a lot of us need that reminder to risk to be fully alive, though at times it really does seem counterintuitive in our current world.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Melinda. You are a courageous soul! You inspire those watching you. I need examples like yours to live the life God wants me to live.

  • This is a very good and encouraging message. It’s good to have positive and uplifting words to counteract all the negativity we are forced to deal with. God bless you.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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