It fell out of a fat envelope a few weeks ago, this little plaque that said “Be Brave”. I stared at it, absorbing the words, and placed it in a place I could see it.
It came as a gift, a prize for a weekly writing exercise my friend Glynis hosts to encourage writers to hone their skills. She encourages me!
It also came at a time where I was pondering my word for 2021. To be really honest, I did not want the word “brave”. Quite frankly I’m tired of being brave. There are days where I would cheerfully hibernate and retreat.
For many these days, staying home is an order, not an option. This also requires courage, patience, and a learning of contentment even in difficult circumstances.
Even with vaccines rolling out, we have entered a dangerous phase of the pandemic. We are tired of it, weary of following rules. The virus does not sleep.
I see brave people every time I show up to work at the hospital where I serve as a chaplain. They serve with great care and devotion. I cannot say enough about the respect I hold for nurses, doctors, social workers, cleaning staff, lab technicians, respiratory technicians, and other supporting staff. They are the faces of brave in these days.
I also see the discouragement and frustration with those who don’t take this virus seriously, with those who break or bend the rules.
The pandemic aside, I have been thinking about this little phrase “be brave”, and how it applies to me. Is it the word God is calling me to?
I looked up some verses about being brave, and most of the references in the Old Testament had to do with times of war. In the New Testament, bravery is often referred to speaking up, being bold. I like this verse in the Contemporary English Version of Hebrews 10:35 which says: Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards.
What struck me the most though, as I did my search, was that the words bravery and courage were often interchanged. I found some of my favourite verses that I have cherished over the years:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
So in these challenging days we are comforted. We can be brave, but we also know we are not alone. Whatever your circumstances, I pray you will be encouraged today.
And if you would like more encouragement, look up the song “The Warrior is a Child” sung by Twila Paris, written by Gary Valenciano. I listened to it often in the nineties, it spoke to me. It talks about those who might seem brave, who are brave, who look brave, but are fragile on the inside. Let us pray for all who show up brave and need our encouragement in these days.