I have been very afraid at least four times in my life. On one occasion I fought a man who had attacked my wife in a dark alley late at night. On another, my daughter Jacqueline was extremely ill with a mysterious virus. A similar experience took place when my son Michael was struggling with serious health problems. And lastly, I was numb with shock and fear when my doctor told me that I had a life-threatening brain and lung illness.

The fear I encountered during those trying occasions took different forms. In the instance when I had to fight to protect my wife and myself it was a stark fear. With my children’s health crises I felt a sense of utter helplessness. With my own health emergency, I experienced inner existential angst at the thought of possibly leaving my wife and small children while only in midlife.

As a proud man it is difficult for me to admit when I’m afraid. Acknowledging fear makes me feel uneasy. Yet I know upon reflection that the virtue of courage is not the absence of fear but the recognition that some things are more important than my personal safety and peaceful state of mind. Thus, courage can be defined as the mental or moral willingness to face danger, difficulty, or trial.

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) thought that courage or fortitude was a foundational virtue. In Aristotle’s golden mean (system of ethics) courage is the mean and thus the moral ideal between rashness (an excess) and cowardice (a deficiency). Aristotle then defined courage as confidence in the face of fear and danger.

Ironically, the thing I probably fear most is that I will not rise in confidence to face the challenges of life but rather succumb to cowardice. So the inner fear of lacking courage may actually outweigh the external challenges and dangers I face in life.

As a Christian I know God sovereignly orchestrates the circumstances of my life in order to transform my moral character and to make me trust uniquely in him. I am therefore thankful to the Lord even for the trying times that have stretched my character and for providing me with the strength to face those fears and to fight through them. I think about those hard times when I need to summon the courage to face new challenges. Even in my field of Christian apologetics courage is a necessary virtue.

Life is short, fragile, and filled with many difficulties. May God’s grace continue to build in me and you the necessary virtues to face inevitable trials that await. The apostle Paul reminds us of the great comfort that God works all things for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28) and that nothing can separate us from Christ (Romans 8:35–39). Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ provided a moral example by exhibiting great courage during his earthly sojourn of suffering. May his presence in our lives encourage all of us to look to him for help during our struggles.

Reflections: Your Turn

How has God used trials to transform your character? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.


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About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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