Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Real Courage

I was reading the other day and came across something that referenced the bravery and courage of a lion.  That's a common conceit in our culture, but I got to thinking, "Why?"  I mean, the lion is king of the jungle (though it doesn't really live in the jungle, does it?), the top of the food chain, a predator with no natural predators.  It hides in the tall grass and picks off individuals from among the herds of zebra, antelope and other vegetarians that live on the Savannah grasslands and semi-arid plains of Africa.

And the male lions, the ones with the manes, the ones that are always pictured when invoking courage, for the most part aren't the ones doing the hunting.  The lionesses do the bulk of the hunting, and then the dominant male ambles in to eat his fill.

The big males do hunt larger prey like giraffe, which can hurt a lion who gets in the way of their front hooves, but when working together the lions are able to bring them down without incident.  

So, really, how much courage does it take to be a lion?  Seems to me it takes more courage to be a zebra eating grass on the Savannah, knowing that there's probably a pride of lions watching nearby.

I mention this because I deal all the time with people who have been diagnosed with dangerous diseases like cancer.  They are scared, which is natural, but they are often ashamed of their fear.  They feel like they should be strong, courageous, and brave, especially as Christians.  They feel that fear is somehow not appropriate for a person of faith.

How did we as a culture allow this to become a prevailing notion?

I watch these people live with cancer, AIDS, and other conditions, and though the fear never really goes away, neither does the faith.  In fact, it seems that the fear increases, enlarges, and deepens their faith.  And if the time comes when death is near, they face it squarely, still not without fear, but not without faith either.  

They face it with courage.

So you can take your great roaring lion.  I have other pictures that come to mind when thinking about courage and bravery.

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