Courage Leads to Joy


This life of chronic pain, from sunrise to sunrise, requires a great deal of courage. We may not feel courageous but we soon discover, that’s what we are. Sometimes we are not even allowed that pleasant break of sunset or a good night of sleep. Others look at us and think one of two things: They wonder if we are truly in the pain we say we are in or they wonder at the sheer courage it takes to continue day upon endless day living with pain.

We cannot bear the responsibility of what someone else thinks of this battle we are waging because we are too engrossed in the battle itself. We may not feel courageous but we know many secrets about that particular virtue. We know it comes with the dawn and we often display it simply by getting out of bed, getting dressed and brushing our teeth. We use it as we see a chore that needs to be done and know we are the only one who can do it, pain or no pain. We know joy comes from doing a job, a chore, or an errand only when it is completed. We still need the pleasure of accomplishment as well as the sense of satisfaction from making ourselves or someone else happy in a simple act that needs completion. Where do we find courage? I don’t know. I think courage like joy and happiness has to come from within one’s self. There are resources left within us even when we are certain we are empty.

Joy comes as we face each challenge of the day, however small its accomplishment in any manner we can. I have learned to carry a smaller bottle of water for a plant, learned to mop half a floor and often cook frozen food or get take-out. Life with chronic pain is full of compromise but it is doable, even on the most painful of days. We can cry, we can become angry and we can survive, whether we are suffering on a bad day or having a rare good one.

We are told that “Joy cometh in the morning” which includes a promise that all of life will not be the darkness of night. I know, there are long stretches of time when it may feel like it.


Where do you find courage?
On a battlefield in war?
On the streets of a vast city
With its violence galore?

Is courage just in movies
Or only found in books?
Does it have to be dramatic;
A life on tenterhooks?

Courage sometimes falls,
Quietly descending
Like a snowy mantle
Protectively defending.

Is courage something you choose,
Or does it indeed choose you?
Is it something you’re born with
Or what you learn to do?

Life never runs too smoothly
No matter whom you are.
There are times when each of us
Could use a shooting star.

What if the roots of courage
Already grow within?
Defining our definition
Of hero or heroine?

Sometimes courage hides
In some unlikely place,
Exhibiting itself
As a quiet act of grace.

The young mother who
Stumbles out of bed,
Half a dozen times
To touch a feverish head.

A father who works overtime
To provide his families needs,
A wounded soldier coming home
Life changed by war’s foul deeds.

Some of us need courage
Just to face each day,
We utter up a prayer, “Dear God,
I can’t live this way.”

Aren’t peace and joy the same
When courage is needed?
Just answering its call
Is a virtue when heeded.

Joy comes from fulfillment,
Peace; answering the call.
Wouldn’t we all be cowards
If we allowed ourselves to fall?

Somehow strength wells up,
Sorrow replaced by joy,
Courage is a quality
Life cannot destroy.

Sue Falkner Wood