Planning for Courage
Karl Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s father, recalled that in May 1933–shortly after Hitler came to power–the Nazi Minister for Cultural Affairs spoke at Berlin University, pressuring the university to dismiss immediately all Jewish doctors. Even the Dean tried to persuade the faculty to join the Nazi Party. Dr. Bonhoeffer later regretted that neither he nor his colleagues “had felt sufficient courage to walk out.”
I can sympathize with Dr. Bonhoeffer. Often things happen quickly, unexpectedly, and we’re not mentally or emotionally prepared to act, to make a decision on the spot. We tend to want to consider all sides, cogitate on the ramifications of a thing.
But, like Dr. Bonhoeffer, I’ve sometimes felt ashamed that I did not take a stand for justice and compassion and the simple rightness of a thing more quickly. Fear, doubt, uncertainty–all insidious and crippling–make us hesitate, sometimes even when we know the right thing to do.
I have no doubt that Joshua went, knowing he would face battles and that those battles would be fierce. God and Joshua both planned ahead for Joshua’s hard times, both planned ahead for Joshua’s mindset: “Be thou strong and very courageous . . . be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed . . .”
That’s a tall order when you’re out the door to slay giants (real or imagined)–one Joshua was able to carry out only because he was well trained, perfectly armed, and had good instruction: “This book of the law shall not depart from thy mouth . . . meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein . . .”
Why? “For then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
But, how could Joshua be sure? “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Like Joshua, we must plan ahead for needed courage–prepare and arm ourselves with prayer and meditation in the Word of God so we understand the high standard, so we’re comfortable with the raised bar, so we act rather than sit through things that are wrong. Then, like Joshua, we’ll know what to do, how to respond–so we “mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein . . .”
Standing up for what’s right in our society is not easy, especially when the powers of “political correctness” loom large in the world and even in the church, just as they did in Bonhoeffer’s day, just as they have for hundreds of years. But, God has set a standard, a plumb line before us and given us the tools we need to attain and maintain that standard.
Have you ever been caught in a situation that you later wished you’d responded to differently, more courageously?
I’m praying for you today, and asking for your prayers,