What is Courage?

There are many excellent movies that share the stories of war, courage, and sacrifice, saluting our Nation’s heroes. If you haven’t seen ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, the story of Desmond Doss, from Lynchburg VA it is very different, and it says something about the ‘Convictions of Faith’.

Since I’m a Chaplain, the movie resonated with me when I saw it, even stays with me now, when we do our morning ‘faith’ study time, Michael and I. We begin with the Lord’s Prayer, followed by two works read aloud to each other. We started at the beginning of the year: Experiments in A Search for God (Lessons 1-24) by Mark Thurston, PHD, as Michael reads first, then I read aloud – The New Rebellion Handbook (A holy uprising making real the extraordinary in everyday life) published by Nelson Books.

Desmond’s early life was challenging because his father was a decorated war hero, but tormented by severe memories of battle and loss of friends. His solace was alcohol, enraging violence results.( Like mine.) There are many scenes in the movie that brought me to tears, about the family relationships, but with great understanding and compassion, how much Desmond’s father truly loved him, and how a mother’s patient faith sustained her son.

As history and the movie storytelling shows us, Desmond Doss was a ‘Conscientious Objector’ and challenged on every front, against his beliefs and his resolute steadfastness to serve his country, without sacrificing his religious convictions. No easy task for many of us, any day – temptation and situations seem so compelling to urge us to waffling or detour the firm and determined path of our core beliefs.

Desmond set the bar very high, and pulled others up alongside, proving to everyone that his faith produced ‘miracles’, through sheer strength, resiliency, and tenacity on the battleground. Circumstances so remarkable, how could anyone witness and not believe in something greater than ourselves?

Just one more, he prayed, just one more.”

For our active duty service members, veterans, and families, each day may be ‘Just one more’. In Christian faith we often pray “One day at a time, Lord, just one day at a time.” Sometimes that’s all we can manage when life is very, very hard. Not only our military members, but life for many civilians, and their families of all faiths or none-- is simply ‘One day at a time too’.

Body, Soul & Spiritual wellness and resiliency are confronted in a way that our future seems hopeless, but hopeless is not a word we can accept – Hope and Faith go hand in hand --and lead us forward.

Courage means many things to a lot of people. In The New Rebellion Handbook, there is a chapter on Courage that I would like to share “Courage has a number of facets to it: the willingness to oppose, the willingness to be opposed, the willingness to wait, and the willingness not to give up.

The first is the most obvious—the man or woman of courage faces very real fears, threats, and risks in order to contend against something evil. What is God calling you to oppose in your world? One thing to remember here is that it isn’t people. (Ephesians 6:12)

'Your courage will be tested in your willingness to endure opposition, even persecution. The more you confront the status quo, the more people may criticize you, marginalize you, and vilify you. Courage is men and women who will not ‘back down’ when it comes to righteousness, who will not conform mindlessly to generational currents. Courage is not blind, but is directed purposefully.’ It is not recklessness, but walks in obedient submission to God’s call. Courage embraces risk for the reward of the Heaven we believe awaits us.

This is the kind of Courage that Desmond Doss had and proved it. Our men and women service members and veterans, prove it every time they show up for duty, anywhere, anytime, based on a ‘volunteer’ pledge they promised from the very beginning. We are thankful.



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