“God, I ask for courage for this family.” 

That’s what I often say when I’m standing next to a hospital bed. It’s in my top five requests, along with requests for peace and for presence and for wisdom and whatever seems appropriate for the particular situation. 

The other day, as I was asking for courage, I chuckled and stopped. I said, “God, we think about courage as some big battle or some big quest. But at this moment, it takes courage to not do this. So please give them quiet courage.” 

Most inspirational posters of courage, of leadership, of challenge, show cliff-divers leaping into glorious blue pools of water, or scenes from Lord of the Rings or people who were part of a 200-mile relay race. But many of us are rightly afraid of heights and shouldn’t be involved in fictional sword battles with orcs. It’s hard enough to give ourselves the shots that will prevent the clots, to have the conversation that starts the therapy, to set down the phone and pick up whatever it is we know we need (not ought) to start. Or stop. To say no. To say yes. 

The people around you, the people you know, the person inside your head, has a next step that is terrifying. It looks simple to you. To them it is a cliff. 

Godly courage isn’t looking for the most risky thing we can do and then asking God to help. Godly courage is looking at the next right step for obedience and asking for courage to take it. 

And encouraging one another doesn’t look like scolding. It looks like standing with them, acknowledging that it may be a cliff, and asking God for courage for them.

And then holding their hand, holding their bag, upholding their heart, when they start to move.