Yes, Vanessa. Courage had me thinking big and butch and strong acts of rescue… knights in shining armour… but then I thought again…
There’s a Deacon Blue song called Is There No Way Back To You? that has the lines: ”How do you carry this sorrow, How do you know when to let go.” For me this is where courage kicks in. How do we know when to let go?
Jesus asked an invalid man a similar question, that I always found bizarre. “Do you want to get healed?” What! Is that not a daft question. Surely the man is bound to want healing.
The longer I have been a pastor the more I understand Jesus question. It is a courageous thing to ask for healing. This man has been an invalid for so long that it has become part of his identity. If Jesus heals him, his ability to beg is over. What will he do then? A whole new life. How will he fair? To be healed is going to take courage. Jesus was asking if he was brave enough.
Sadly, as a Church pastor, I am too often in the presence of those who have not the courage. I am talking about the courage of vulnerability, weakness, confessing the need for help, and then being prepared to construct a new identity, from the one that they have been living.
As I share with you this morning I can see the girl who as a teenager had anorexia and who is now a mother, living a creative and full life. I remember the courageous struggle she had to admit she needed help, going for help and following through on that help.
I am thinking of the man who was an alcoholic who now courageously lives through physical pain but refuses to use drink to ease that pain. The emotional, mental and spiritual health has become too important.
I am thinking of a friend who is bound to a wheel chair as a result Northern Ireland Troubles. He took the courageous decision to not hold animosity and when he would have had every right to wallow in the identity of a victim now works for peace and reconciliation.
These three friends knew when to let go of their sorrow. They are heroes for me. When asked, “Do you want to get healed?” they answered with honesty and vulnerability - yes, please help me, I want my life to be different. That is courage.