Hi everyone. Rob here.
Last night our family gathered around the TV and watched the movie, Wonder. It tells the story of a 10 year old boy named Auggie who has Treacher Collins Syndrome. After multiple surgeries he has a resulting facial deformity. For the first time he starts attending school and the movie tells his story and the story of all those impacted by his condition. By the end of the movie we see that his dignified courage has won him the school’s most prestigious award. From his point of view he was “just trying to get through 5th grade.” His voiceover reflects that,
“once in their life everyone deserves a standing ovation.”
That line reminded me once again that life requires us to have courage. We know that it takes courage to love. To open your heart to love is to risk pain and grief and heartbreak. And yet people keep on loving. It takes courage to have faith. Faith is, by definition, a leap into something that can’t be absolutely proven. It takes courage to start a business, become a parent, pursue study, buy a house, drive a car and so much more. Courage is a necessary starting block to build any kind of life worth living. When people display courage, especially courage spent on behalf of others, they do indeed deserve a standing ovation.
Courage, however, isn’t inherent in us. Ever since Adam and Eve refused to take a stand against the serpent we have had a default setting that looks for the path of least resistance. So, how do we learn to take a stand against the things that come against God’s life in us and for us? That is, we don’t just resist obvious acts of evil, but insidious habits like apathy, lethargy, cynicism and despair. A life like that can only come from Christ in us. It’s the courage of Christ that we seek because that is truly human courage.
Jesus’ courage came from being sent from God, filled with the love of God to do God’s good work in the world. We see this in Hebrews 12:1-2,
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I wonder how often we think of joy and courage together in the same sentence? It does make sense. It’s the glimpses of joy that we get from God that persuades us that life is fully found in God and, therefore, I will act courageously in order to pursue that life. If we go back to the movie we see that Auggie glimpsed the joy of friendship, showed courage in opening himself to friendship, endured the pain of betrayal in friendship, but, having glimpsed the joy, pursued friendship again. Courage requires a higher cause, a hopeful future and the pursuit of joy.
Which all causes me to ask myself, “how is my joy?” How is yours? Is there a higher cause that you’ve given yourself to? I think of top athletes, elite artisans and even hard-working politicians who have given themselves to a greater cause. I think of entrepreneurs, inventors, poets, artists, stay-at-home parents, peacemakers and preachers who have found their joy in a higher cause and courageously pursued it. Is that you? Is that me?
My answer is…sometimes? Sometimes I find joy in my writing, my speaking, my actions. But then, there are days like today where every word is hard-won and joy is elusive. And so, I turn to Christ. I want his courage but I also want his joy. It came from a life in God. It came from the Spirit in him and the love spoken over him. I remind myself that what’s true for Jesus is true for me.
Christ in me, I give myself to you. I ask for your courage. I ask for your joy. I love you. Amen.