HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

Courage Is the Conquest of Fear

We see also along this line a thought that courage is different from insensibility. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is the conquest of fear. One man, in some hour of peril, may feel that his heart is beating like a sledgehammer. Another, in an hour precisely similar, may scarcely be conscious of a quickened pulse. And yet the former may be the braver man if he does resolutely what the hour demands of him, for he has felt what the other never felt and feeling it, has brought it to subjection.

I often think of that fine old story of Henry IV, King of France. At the siege of Cahors, when he was young and in arms, his body began to tremble like aspen. And he cried to his body so that all who were near him heard, “Vile carcass,” he cried, “thou tremblest, but thou wouldst tremble worse if thou but knew where I am going to take thee in a moment.” So saying, with a body trembling like an aspen, he flung himself into the thickest of the fight.

I read the story of two young men who had a cliff to scale, and one of them was very white around the cheeks. And the other looked at him and with a sneer said, “Why, I believe you are afraid.”

“Yes,” he replied, “I am afraid, and if you were half as afraid as I am, you’d go home.”

The fact is, that as you rise in being you rise in the nobility of courage. It is those who are capable of being most afraid who are capable of being most courageous. And that is why the courage of a woman is something loftier than that of any beast, for she has a heart that by the touch of God has been made sensitive to every shadow. You will never fathom the bravery of Christ unless you bear in mind that Christ was sinless. For sin is always coarsening and deadening–“it hardens all within and petrifies the feeling.” And it is when we think that Jesus Christ was sinless, and being sinless was exquisitely sensitive, that we come to realize the matchless fortitude that carried Him without a falter to the cross.

I beg of you not for one moment to believe that because you feel afraid you are a coward. Moses and Paul and Jesus Christ Himself knew in its bitterness the shrinking of the flesh. Courage is not the absence of dismay; courage is the conquest of dismay. It is how a man deals and grapples with his trembling that makes the difference between strong and weak.




Author: Godfrey Gregg

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