Courage has to do with how we behave in the face of obstacles and difficulties. The determined pursuit of a worthy goal even in the face of opposition and hardship, like the sprout that pops up in the first days of spring—that’s the essence of courage.
In English we have a revealing counterpart to courage: discouragement. People who give in to discouragement no longer have the energy to move forward. They give up. The worthy goal remains worthy, but out of reach. When we feel the weight of discouragement, we need something to boost our spirits to get us back on track. We need to be encouraged.
Discouragement never comes from God. If, in his providence, he has planted a desire in our hearts, he hasn’t done so to torture us. He will give us the strength, guidance, and assistance we need to overcome every obstacle and fulfill it. When he whispers something in our hearts, that whisper is enough. All we need to do is keep going, being brave in the face of difficulties.
These days, we need courage for everything. In some areas of the world, even going to Mass or praying to Jesus requires taking your life in your hands.
Most of us live in less dramatic situations, but we need courage nonetheless. Being faithful at home, being honest at work, being responsible to the duties of our state in life—these fundamental requirements of a truly human life face more and more opposition in our rapidly decaying culture.
The world around us is full of pressures and influences that constantly try to deceive and weaken us. In such an environment, to be true to the ever-ancient and ever-new wisdom of Christ and his Church requires courage, the courage only God can give.
The world will give us trouble, but we can take courage because the God who whispers in our hearts is the same God who made the soil and gave the seed its original spark of life.
Adapted from Spring Meditations by Fr. John Bartunek (Liguori Publications, © 2016).