BRINGING OUT THE TIGER
I've been hearing people say that they'd like to have more courage. Call it self-esteem, guts, nerve, gumption, spunk, confidence, there are many names for that quality we need to get things done in life. Without courage, we miss opportunities that could both make our lives better and improve the lives of others.
One thing I've discovered about courage is that it's not some magical quality that only certain people are blessed to have. Everyone has the potential to be courageous. The difference between people with courage and people who back down is the thing that drives them. Courageous people always have something big that's pushing them forward, something bigger than themselves.
Life is difficult. Sometimes it's plain exhausting, and we can reach a point where we want to give up. It's during those times that we have the greatest potential to become courageous. Looking back, I'd say that my most courageous time was when I was a single mother. Being alone and having a child that depended on me drove me to do things I wouldn't have done otherwise. I had to be strong and I had to make a living, not just for myself but for my son. He was my driving force that gave me the courage to try new things. Going from a waitress to a news writer was quite a leap. But I knew I had to do it to make a better life for my son even though I was scared.
I think some of the most unlucky people in the world are the children of rich parents who get everything handed to them. That security doesn't muster up courage, it kills it. And those kids might never know the nerve they have because they're not forced to find it. Sometimes adversity is a gift...a gift of courage to get out of that pit. We reach a point where we can't take another minute and we become so fiercely courageous that we make things happen...good things.
That's the thing about courage, it makes good things happen. And if we can get our eyes off ourselves long enough to see the greater good, then we can put aside our fears and doubts and step out of our comfort zones. The greatest things we'll ever achieve aren't waiting for us in the comfort zone. To achieve great things we have to wrestle with stage fright. We have to go where things aren't easy. And little by little we make a place for ourselves there until one day we feel like we actually belong.
The value of courage is the improvement it brings. Without courage, nothing grows, nothing is born and nothing gets better. So when something drives us to do something courageous, we have to be thankful for it even if it's something unpleasant like a divorce or a job loss. Without those things we wouldn't have developed the courage to improve our lives. And I believe that's one reason why God allows those things to happen, even to good people. God knows that there's a tiger in all of us, and he knows what it takes to bring it out.
God also allows adversity so it can draw us closer to Him. He wants to teach us about His love and faithfulness. When things are going great we tend to leave God out of the picture, but when we're broken we look up and fall to our knees. We need his fellowship and His presence. When adversity strikes, turning to God is the first thing we should do. When we remain focused on Him and not on our circumstances, we gain strength. By surrendering our selfish desires and allowing God to guide us through the problem, we'll get past the pain much quicker than if we fuss and fume and question. By staying close to God through prayer and reading the bible we find courage, guidance, and comfort... the three things we need most when we're hurting.