The Grove: Brave

From Frozen I learned being Brave might involve going after someone (and being cold).

From 42, about Jackie Robinson, I learned being Brave might mean turning the other cheek again and again, and that change might come at the speed of molasses.

From Braveheart I learned being Brave might involve going up against horrible odds, being a part of a group, and come at a cost (to this day, that final scene where William Wallace screams “Freedom!” haunts me. Please God, may all of my innards stay in.)

From Belle I learned being Brave might involve going against family.

From Sarah Plain and Tall I learned being Brave involves risk.

From Christy I learned being Brave can make a difference in the world.

From the Bible I learned …nothing?

No, that can’t be right.

Or can it?

We’ve been looking at the idea of “brave” this week and in anticipation I asked myself three questions:

1. What do I think brave/bravery means?
2. Where did I get this idea?
3. What does God say about brave and bravery?

If you look at my examples above, most involve the extraordinary and a doing something impressive. Is this how God sees Bravery?

Getting no where fast doing google searches of Hebrew and Greek I contacted my friend Karl and asked for his help. He sent me a treasure trove of information. {I’ve written more here.}

If anyone gets the trickeries and fascination with translating words and concepts, it’s us. “Brave” shows up 19 times in the OT in the NIV, but only a handful of times in other translations and often in the context of battle, fighting, and quarrelsomeness. There are no appearances of “Brave” in the NT in the NIV, ESV, NRSV, or NASB.

But if we look for “Courage” the NIV has 8 NT uses, NASB has 16 NT uses, NRSV 7 NT uses, and ESV has 6 NT uses. For more information of what my friend shared, read here. But suffice it to say, there is overlap in words and concepts and though the OT and NT may not use the word “Brave” it is not foreign to us.

And now for the gem from the research. Karl wrote, “I saw one intriguing comment deep in the biggest, fattest lexicon entry on tolmao, it said that to act with courage meant to follow a particular course of action in spite of any natural feelings. That implies that we as humans have all sorts of natural feelings that regularly direct us NOT to do certain thing, esp. good things, esp, things for the benefit of others.  Courage, therefore, is to overcome the inner self that would prevent (fear, hesitation, insecurity, etc…) good actions.”

Wow. Let’s just sit on that for a moment. How God is that?! When he said we are now a new creature, the old is gone, the new has come, he meant it. And yet, we all know we live in the “already and not yet.” So, we are the new creature, but our old nature isn’t completely gone. What I love about how God expresses it, is he doesn’t say “Brave looks like X.” If he had, it would have been so much easier to know if we were brave or not.

Instead, He said, brave will look different for each person.

Maybe for you, brave is saying more noes or more yeses. Maybe being brave will look counterintuitive to your teammates as you don’t go to an event or an outing and instead stay home and rest. Or you go when others aren’t going.

Or being brave might involve going against a cultural norm. Visiting a temple with a local friend, but not bowing down — this one isn’t so hard for most of us, but how about other practices that aren’t as clear?

Being brave might involve hard conversations where you have to say, “I’m sorry, this isn’t working for me.” Instead of pretending everything is fine and seething on the inside. Those conversations whether with family, teammates, organizations, or friends are hard, aren’t they?!

Bravery may have you eating things you never thought you’d eat. And if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to not let it show on my face this is so not my fav!!! Pig brain, anyone? Why did it have to be mentioned right before I put it in my mouth?

Or she might require you to step in and protect your kids in some way that might “damage” your witness.

Bravery might provide you with fellow sojourners. “Wait, what? You too? Your kids are like that too? Or your fears are like mine? You see yourself that way? Your marriage isn’t all roses and chocolate? You long for significance?” As we find safe people to share with.

I am grateful for the teammates I’ve had (and have) who help me understand the culture, who have explain the local ways, who have listen to me debrief the high’s and low’s of life overseas. If nothing else, we have seen this week that bravery is a lover of community. She brings us together and makes us better than if we were left on our own.

But above all else, bravery invites us to keep our eyes on the author and protector our our faith and not on each other.

What has helped form your sense of bravery? What does it mean to be brave in the culture you live in? Where have you gone against your natural feelings? So many questions this week. 🙂


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.

Photo Credit : Gratisography


  1. Beth Everett November 20, 2014

    THIS: “to act with courage meant to follow a particular course of action in spite of any natural feelings. That implies that we as humans have all sorts of natural feelings that regularly direct us NOT to do certain thing, esp. good things, esp, things for the benefit of others. Courage, therefore, is to overcome the inner self that would prevent (fear, hesitation, insecurity, etc…) good actions.”
    Mulling over this one and finding strength from it. Thanks for sharing this, Amy!

    1. Amy Young November 20, 2014

      Me too 🙂 … over this last week as I’ve come to understand bravery (or at least looked at it from another angle) much mulling here too!

    2. Monica November 21, 2014

      This quote is very powerful.  I re- read this post several times, mulled over the quotes, and I realized from my own experiences- that the Holy Spirit makes me (us) brave.  Jesus makes me brave.  There have been times, whether at work in the States where I witnessed an injustice, or sitting bedside with a village friend at a rural hospital- that the Holy Spirit moved me in a ‘counter-intuitive way’ to be brave.  Intervening, standing up, showing restraint, reaching out…when everything within me says NOT to do something- my ‘natural bent’ is subdued by the Spirit!  There have been moments in my life, where the bravery I’ve seen in others or myself has taken me by surprise- wondering, ‘did that just happen?’!  It’s exciting because the Spirit is working in us, growing us!  Bravery can be ‘exceptional’ or it can be found tucked in, within every-day life choices we make.  This post filled me with gratitude today, as I reflect on people in my life who inspire me to be brave.  And what a  blessing to have The Comforter with us… guiding us and surprising us in ways we never imagined!

    3. MaDonna November 22, 2014

      This is such a good quote. Thanks for sharing – and challenging me this evening. Definitely something that God is working on in my life….sometimes to be obedient requires bravery.

  2. Kristi November 21, 2014

    If we go by that definition we are all braver than we think.  I quite often go against my natural inclination to do what I know to be right, good, or beneficial to me or someone else.  I like the idea of being courageous but I don’t like the natural fear that precedes it.  I want mull this over too. Thanks, Amy.

    1. Amy Young November 21, 2014

      If we go by that definition we are all braver than we think. 

      Yes, yes, yes :)!!! The enemy wants us to think “Oh, she is brave.” or “He is brave.” or “Wow, they are brave!” but the truth is, we are all braver than we realize. God knows it and wants us to know it too!

  3. Lydia November 21, 2014

    This post made me think of Gideon in the Bible. When we first meet him, he is threshing wheat in a wine press to hide it from his enemies who spent their time driving the Israelites into caves and burning their fields. That’s actually pretty ingenious on Gideon’s part, if you ask me, though I’ve heard some pastors say that he was not particularly “courageous” to do so. Anyway, The Angel of the Lord came to him and said “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

    And Gideon’s response? He basically says, “What are you talking about? If that’s true, then why is all this happening to us? Where is God?”

    So the angel says to him, “Go in this might of yours and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

    And again, Gideon looks at what he knows, what he feels, what he can understand and says (paraphrased again) “I’m nobody. What can I do?”

    What hits me here is that God calls Gideon out as “a mighty man of valor” and tells him to “go in this might of yours,” because God sees bravery with a bigger equation than we see bravery.

    I think we see bravery as us going against the odds. Gideon sure did — “My clan is the weakest and I’m the least in my house.” Basically…. I’ve calculated the odds and they stink.

    But God’s calculation says, “I have sent you and I will be with you. Nothing else in this equation matters. Now go.”

    And I think that’s exactly what I needed to be reminded of this morning…. for me sometimes being brave means something as little as leaving my apartment. It means speaking to someone in their language, even when my skills fail me. It means remembering when I think everything is just too hard that God is saying “Have I not sent you?”

    1. Amy Young November 21, 2014

      Lydia, I so appreciate the ways you broaden the discussion of bravery. I think you’re right that too often we see bravery in terms of calculations and God, in his loving kindness, reminds that is only PART of it, and really, not a very big part 🙂

      Thanks for the Gideon illustration!

  4. Lauren Pinkston November 21, 2014

    Glad we’re finally recognizing that bravery comes in many shapes and sizes, and we can cheer for each one of these expressions of courage!

    1. Amy Young November 21, 2014

      Yes 🙂 … let’s cheer for one another, shall we?

      Who are people we can cheer for? For me, this week, I’m cheering my brother-in-law who is being unjustly accused of things at work (it’s a hot mess complete with a 108 page legal rebuttal documenting the lies), still he is going in to work every day and being respectful to his boss. I want to give a shout out to him this week for his bravery.

  5. Kristina Krauss November 21, 2014

    Ditto to everybody! jajajjaja

    Well Amy, I enjoyed the way you jumped in to see where we have learned what we know about bravery, and I think you are right. I bet we know more from movies than the Bible on this topic. I love inspiring movies!!!  (I use them to get my butt in gear sometimes) But the picture is different when you look at scripture. It takes bravery to follow God, putting one foot in front of the other, when no one around us may have any idea what or why God is asking us to do something. How beautiful if we could accept each other, and know that bravery will always be different-looking depending on the person, the timing, the need, and God’s will.

  6. Elizabeth November 21, 2014

    The already and not yet . . . one of my favorite Scriptural concepts. Helps me understand so much in the Bible and in life.

    I think Brave, for me, is not about what I do or don’t do, but rather how I FEEL about how I do it. Being brave means feeling confident in doing what He has told me to do, even if it looks strange to others. I already do the things I think I’m supposed to do, I just worry about what other people think of those things. And I wish I would not worry so much about others’ opinions.

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