Courage: The Most Important Virtue? A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
If ever someone earned the right to talk about courage, surely Maya Angelou did. She endured the kind of heart-wrenching abuse that would have made most of us give up in despair. Instead, Maya fought it with courage and a deep sense of her value to God. She knew why “the caged bird sings.” She lived a long and exceedingly productive life after overcoming innumerable obstacles. So when she talks about courage, I listen and take it to heart.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, or honest without courage. . . . Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. It means we face our fears. We are able to say, “I have fallen, but I will get up.”
Why does it take courage to be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it? They won’t value the cost of your kindness. But there is a God in Heaven who looks down on us in great love, and He rewards those who love the unlovable. Why does it take courage to be faithful and true to your convictions? Because others will misunderstand you and call you “hateful.” But God is the source of all truth. No matter how people discredit us, if we believe the truth of His Word, we will be given the courage to stand true.
Why does it take courage to be honest and admit you’ve failed? Because it’s just plain embarrassing, that’s why! But Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” Why can we stand up again after failure? Because we take courage in God’s promise of help when we’ve failed.
The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, For the LORD holds them by the hand. Psalm 34:23,24
Courage, as Maya says, is a cardinal virtue. But we must measure our courage by its true source. It isn’t a false braggadocio; it isn’t confidence in our own sufficiency. God Himself promises us His help. In Joshua 1:9, God says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Yes, dear friend, don’t be terrified at the terrible things happening all around you. Don’t be discouraged. This broken world is full of disease and hate and wanton wickedness. You could easily panic. But when you’ve put your trust in Him, your Heavenly Father promises to be with you wherever you go. He is strong enough, wise enough, and loving enough to take care of you every step of the way.