Always be of good courage


Published: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 11:25 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 11:25 a.m.
Beginning next week, local celebrations will commence both honoring and celebrating the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These observances and programs will culminate in the national celebration on Jan. 15 for Dr. King, the only African-American to be honored with such a holiday.
Also being honored locally this month is Coretta Scott King, Dr. King's widow, who continued her husband's legacy after his assassination in 1968 by continuing to fight for justice and equality, and she did so with unwavering grace and dignity, and one other characteristic called courage, until she, too, passed from earth to eternity.
A little over a month ago, on Dec. 1, a committee I formed called the Rosa Parks "Quiet Courage" Committee, along with the community, paid tribute to another icon of great courage, Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person led to the emergence of Dr. King as a civil rights leader, as well as the beginning of the modern-day civil rights movement.
As the community begins to reflect on Dr. King, Coretta King, and Mother Parks, there is one historic "common denominator" that forever ties these beloved icons together, and that is the concept of courage.
Courage is an admirable trait to carry. The dictionary describes it as "the quality or state of mind or spirit enabling one to face danger or hardship with confidence and resolution.
In other words, to be brave in spite of the condition or present or even future circumstance. We should give God thanks for the courage of Dr. King, his wife, Coretta, Mother Parks, and so many others, both past and present.
The written word of God is filled with examples of this concept of courage. A few examples can be found in Psalm 27:14, where David writes, "wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Isaiah wrote in 40: 29, "he gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increases strength."
For my final scripture reference for this column, I refer to one of my favorite passages, which reads in part: "I can do all things through Christ who strenghens me." (Philippians 4)
In this often tension-filled society we live in, and with those who would seek to use intimidation, power, fear, prejudice and other tactics to dominate others, courage must be as common as taking a breath, ongoing and as bold as can be.
Without it, our earthly enemies will win, and Satan will continue to wreak havoc in our lives. Americans just paid tribute to the late former President Gerald Ford, who showed great courage by granting Richard Nixon a pardon for Watergate in 1974, knowing this act would cost him politically. But President Ford did it for the good of the country, and not for self-serving reasons. His decision most likely cost him the presidential election in 1976.
I want to say that, no matter who we are, or our station in life, we, too, must display courage, even at the risk of disturbing our so-called "comfort zones."
We must speak out when others remain silent. We must step forward when others choose to step back. And we must seek what is right, especially when surrounded by great wrongs, and this can be done without being pompous, overbearing or self-righteous.
A man by the name of Peter Sheridan wrote these powerful words, which I quote: "Courage does not always roar like a lion. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day that says, 'I will try again tomorrow.' ''
Let us never be satisfied with letting courage become outdated and obsolete, but let us keep it visible and steady. And if we need more than we have, if we just ask God, He will give us more.
The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner is the founder and chairman of the Rosa Parks "Quiet Courage" Committee and the outreach coordinator for the Alachua County Ministerial Alliance.

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