Virtue to Face the Challenges of Life

shutterstock_149342012-1024x683I have been very afraid at least four times in my life. On one occasion I fought a man who had attacked my wife in a dark alley late at night. On another, my daughter Jacqueline was extremely ill with a mysterious virus. A similar experience took place when my son Michael was struggling with serious health problems. And lastly, I was numb with shock and fear when my doctor told me that I had a life-threatening brain and lung illness.

The fear I encountered during those trying occasions took different forms. In the instance when I had to fight to protect my wife and myself it was a stark fear. With my children’s health crises I felt a sense of utter helplessness. With my own health emergency, I experienced inner existential angst at the thought of possibly leaving my wife and small children while only in midlife.

As a proud man it is difficult for me to admit when I’m afraid. Acknowledging fear makes me feel uneasy. Yet I know upon reflection that the virtue of courage is not the absence of fear but the recognition that some things are more important than my personal safety and peaceful state of mind. Thus, courage can be defined as the mental or moral willingness to face danger, difficulty, or trial.

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) thought that courage or fortitude was a foundational virtue. In Aristotle’s golden mean (system of ethics) courage is the mean and thus the moral ideal between rashness (an excess) and cowardice (a deficiency). Aristotle then defined courage as confidence in the face of fear and danger.

Ironically, the thing I probably fear most is that I will not rise in confidence to face the challenges of life but rather succumb to cowardice. So the inner fear of lacking courage may actually outweigh the external challenges and dangers I face in life.

As a Christian I know God sovereignly orchestrates the circumstances of my life in order to transform my moral character and to make me trust uniquely in him. I am therefore thankful to the Lord even for the trying times that have stretched my character and for providing me with the strength to face those fears and to fight through them. I think about those hard times when I need to summon the courage to face new challenges. Even in my field of Christian apologetics courage is a necessary virtue.

Life is short, fragile, and filled with many difficulties. May God’s grace continue to build in me and you the necessary virtues to face inevitable trials that await. The apostle Paul reminds us of the great comfort that God works all things for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28) and that nothing can separate us from Christ (Romans 8:35–39). Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ provided a moral example by exhibiting great courage during his earthly sojourn of suffering. May his presence in our lives encourage all of us to look to him for help during our struggles.

Reflections: Your Turn

How has God used trials to transform your character?


For more about the virtue of courage, see:

  One thought on “Virtue to Face the Challenges of Life

  1. December 13, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I know the Lord has used several situations to strengthen my faith and reliance on Him. When I was younger He was always there even though I did not recognize His Presence as the catalyst to success when dealing with adversity I always knew the knowledge was not of me but of some higher order. As I grew older I came to recognize His person and the many ways He forgave my not knowing the truth. As I have come to know Him and know the fullness of my indiscretions I have also come to know that I am more responsible for my actions towards others and that my choices are more telling of my final character. This has become a great test of faith for me as my reactions now are so intensely wrong during moments where thinga go wrong due to the choices I have made for myself and they happen so suddenly that I fail to see the normalcy of the incidents. Your blog helped me to see where I am falling into error and hopefully now I can deal properly with these minor difficulties and see them as results of my choices for my life. God is Good and He is always present in our lives. No matter how horribly we react to sudden mishaps. Especially those which occur immediately after a close connection to Him. These are demonic attacks which are designed to catch us off guard in order that we stumble and sin again. Which of course makes us feel unloved and unprotected because we are not veiwing them from the proper perspective.

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