Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”—Mary Anne Radmacher
That quote was meaningful enough to me the first time I read it that I still remember where I sat and the time of day.
I saved it immediately, and I’ve used it in teaching since. Whenever I share it in a lesson, I see pens and paper connect as many others want to save it, too. It’s worded with such concise beauty that we easily identify with it.
But there is something about this quote’s appeal that has always troubled me a little. It’s not that the quote is inaccurate, but that it is incomplete.
It doesn’t give a source for the courage.
True, sometimes courage doesn’t roar. Sometimes courage is trying again when you don’t feel you have it in you to go on. Sometimes it is pressing forward when lack of visible progress dampens your resolve. Sometimes it is shaking off failure and pressing forward. Sometimes it is the quiet resolve that pushes through pain and weakness and failure and frustration to, as the quote specifically says, “try again tomorrow.”
All of this is true.
But where does this kind of courage come from?
Grit your teeth and white knuckle your way forward?
Maybe, but these only last for so long, and they’re usually trailed by unintended consequences in other aspects of our lives. Eventually we come to the end of our strength and the bottom of our courage.
What then? Where are we to gain the courage to try again tomorrow?
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…—Isaiah 40:30–31
Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is not simply to trudge though another day in despair; it is to open the pages of God’s Word and find hope. It is to seek the face of God.
We tire, and God made us this way so we would come to Him for renewed strength. We face adversity, and God allows it so we turn to Him for courage. But we don’t find this strength or ability to choose courage through scrolling Facebook, repeatedly complaining to our friends, or stiffening our resolve. We find it by carving out those segments of time—and don’t let yourself think that if you can’t find an hour it isn’t worth trying—to read the very Word of God and allow His truth to seep into the fearful, tired places of our hearts.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.—Isaiah 40:28–29
Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is to push your phone and its constant draining distractions away and read the life-giving, truthful words of the God who made you, loves you, knows everything about you, is leading you, and whispers, “Be of good courage.”
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.—Psalm 31:24
True, you might not roar afterward.
You might simply go on.
After all, pressing on is courage too. But there is a difference between pressing on with steadfast hope and pressing on with a broken roar.
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. —Psalm 27:13–14