Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi

“Where courage is not, no other virtue can survive except by accident.”

Samuel Johnson

I sit on the couch and watch the images on the screen as my husband flips through the channels.  The news reporter speaks of ice and snow,  traffic accidents and a plea for people to be safe and not venture out if not necessary.  I sit in my warm home with a blanket and a cup of coffee after a full day at work. The channels flip some more.  More talk about the movie “Fifty Shades of Gray”.  Flip.  A train derails in West Virginia, oil leaking into the river, huge flames fill the sky as the trains go up in smoke.  The news speaks of evacuations of two towns because of the oil leak from the trains.  Another sip of my coffee.  Flip.  A rehash of last night’s hilarious SNL celebration with comedians and entertainers all coming together to celebrate, entertain, and enjoy. Flip, Sip…

And then…

Then comes the line of men in orange.  The line of Christian men in orange on their knees.  They have been marched to a beautiful beach, of all places, to kneel for the last time.  Their faces are not full of fear.  They are men of courage in the face of the biggest challenge of their life that will lead to their death in a few short moments.  Courage that does not cower in the face of pure evil.  Courage that stands in spirit although kneeling in posture.  Courage that breathes life and hope into the air which the enemy only fills with despair.

It is no longer flip the channel and sip the coffee.  No.  I’m awake now and the tears are streaming down my face.  Too much.  It is just too much. I just don’t want to admit that evil at this degree exists.  It’s just too much.

And that’s when one of my favorite quotes comes to mind loud and clear as the tears stream down my face.  “where courage is not, no other virtue can survive except by accident.”

Evil DOES exist.  It just does. Denying it exists, flipping the channel, won’t change the truth.

Courage stands when all else falls.  Courage calls for conviction, commitment.  Courage weeps and feels but does not waver, come what may.  Come what may.  Come sickness, health,financial distress, come comfort.  Come peace or war, courage allows one to walk in the strength of their character.  Seems to me, the greater the conviction, the greater the courage.  And courage does not come easily.  It comes with determination.  It is developed over time, like a skill, a talent that is exercised in the small things to be used in the big.

It comes with facing the day, the moments that we’re in with the gifts we’re equipped with to impact our world.  Evil cowers, evil seeks power that destroys.  Courage is not a conquest.  It is a strength that stands no matter what falls.  It sacrifices the momentary loss for the long term gain.  It has a goal in mind.

I don’t have any earthly idea what the 21 men were thinking during their last moments on earth.  But I wonder….I wonder if they had moments in the months before being kidnapped of sitting in their homes, drinking a cup of coffee and relaxing with their families when the news showed clips of the evil atrocities of ISIS.  I wonder if they did.  And if they could have ever conceived that within a short period, they would be the next ones on the news that make the world shake with terror and weep with grief.  I wonder.  Because it seems to me, in this ever changing world, we must  be people of courage. And courage doesn’t just live on battlefields.  It seems to me that it is fostered in our very homes, our communities, our world, and our will.  Courage must be fueled by a belief that there is something that is greater that is worth fighting for.

I love and appreciate the time in my family.  But I hope and pray it is not taken for granted .  I don’t want to be passive and comfortably  numb , unaware of the battles going on around me…in my home, in my community, in this world. Courage is forged in the little battles  of the day.  In choosing to rise when we want to sit, in working when we want to rest, in confronting when we just want to be still, speaking when it would be so much easier to be silent.  Courage is forged in the little moments, the choices in a day.  The heart of a courageous warrior must be willing to fight for His commander.  He must believe in something bigger than himself.  And in fighting the battle, there is only victory.  I love how the Bible says, “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.… Matthew 10:28.

So here’s the thing.  I am not on the front lines in the Middle East.  I am not in a major battle in my life. I do not have any idea what it takes to muster up certain levels of courage. But I am so aware that there is a spiritual battle going on for the souls of men and the darkness is fierce.  It is evil and heinous and more destructive than what we can imagine.  Even when we are not on the front lines of a physical battlefield, it is so important to know we’re in a battle.  Courage is crucial.  We can battle courageously in prayer.  We can bathe our minds in Truth.  We can open our eyes to the atrocities and speak with wisdom and discernment.  Courage counts.  It counts for the man about to face his last breath, for the woman battling cancer, for the child whose parents are getting a divorce, for the housewife who is trying to juggle all the details of raising children. It counted for those men on the beach and now for their families.  Courage counts. And it matters no matter where we are….because you know, you  never really know where you will be an what it will cost. Or….who will be watching and the impact it will have.

The 21 Egyptian men of the Coptic Church had a Hope so much greater than what we can imagine.I pray comfort for their families.  And courage for us to stand.

Just one more thought.  One of my very favorite verses is this  John 1:5.  It says,

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Thanks be to God.  We aren’t that Light, but we are surely called to reflect it, reflect Him.  May we fuel the fires that will be a light that helps dispel the darkness.  Like a million little candles that make a bright light, courage matters, collectively and individually.  Courage counts.  Just a few thoughts, rants, hopes as I process these senseless losses….

Blessings,

Heather