Several weeks ago I was flicking through the pages of the Radio Times to choose an article to read when I happened to stop at the page written by the Sports journalist. About to turn over, the text caught my eye and he quoting the late author, Ernest Hemingway, on the subject of courage. Hemingway had written, “Courage is grace under pressure”. The journalist commented he could not quite grasp what Hemingway was getting at but went on to talk about the courage of various sports people and events. He cited horse and rider, the courage needed to take the high fences, climbers and others who undertake feats of almost impossible targets to achieve to an onlooker.
Naturally, his examples were all sports based and I found myself thinking about whether or not it is courage that enables them to perform at high level. I also gave consideration as to how courage is ‘grace under pressure’. As I do not want to stir up vigorous debate on the former issue I think I shall just say that without undertaking research I am not entirely convinced, although participants are certainly driven or highly motivated but I think there is no one simple answer here.
To take the issue of ‘grace under pressure’, I thought of a number of instances where people work under a great deal of pressure undertaking work that may be dangerous, frightening or emotionally demanding in their employment such as firemen, paramedics, nurses and policemen to name but a few. Why do they do it? Again, I think there is no one answer, but I have found a good many health workers are Christians or of another faith. They want to help people, to do work that requires them living out their faith on a daily basis.We can also look to missionaries who go willingly to countries where it can be dangerous to be a Christian. They are relying on their faith, trusting that God will see them through whatever lies ahead. This, I feel, is perhaps what Hemingway was getting at although unfortunately he is no longer around to ask.
My starting point was to remind myself what grace is and where it comes from and thought of the phrase “we shall now say grace” that precedes a meal; we are giving thanks to God for his provision, not just on one occasion but continuously. When we say The Grace – “may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”, again we are directing our thoughts in a spiritual direction. Christ is the embodiment of Grace and Christ went to the cross, obeying the Father’s will, knowing he would die and in what manner. He did it for the sake of the whole of humankind. Is that courage, is that Grace – ‘grace under pressure”, or not?
A verse from an old hymn written by Norman Macleod:
“Courage, brother, do not stumble
Though Thy path be dark as night;
There’s a star to guide the humble:
Trust in God and do the right.”