Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? Courage!
What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the Sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage!
What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got? Courage!
The Cowardly Lion, “Wizard of Oz”

Big or small, ancient or modern, military or civilian, fictional or true-life, we love us some heroes. The lad David who stood up to the giant Goliath. The soldier who threw himself on the grenade to save his squad-mates. Six year old Ruby Bridges who walked every day through a screaming, threatening, spitting mob to be the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in Louisiana. Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan who defied Taliban threats and bullets as an advocate for educational rights for girls.

The most common feature shared by heroes is courage. Heroes can be ordinary people who face extraordinary circumstances and display great valor. Most people don’t set out to be heroes. Often, circumstances arise which force a difficult choice between safety and some deeply held value. A hero is someone who chooses to live by their values despite the very real risks inherent in doing so.

The first half of the book of Daniel is a book in Scripture that intentionally seeks to provide hero-stories for God-followers living in circumstances that are hostile to faith. Threats and dangers abound in Daniel: fiery furnaces, lion’s dens, arrogant despots, the pressure to accommodate faith to false gods. Yet these threats are met with loyalty, integrity, faithfulness, and yes, courage! Daniel 1-6 makes for inspiring reading when you are tempted to choose safety and expedience over deeply held values.

Of course, not everyone has the chance to face down a Goliath, defy the Taliban, or risk the flames of a fiery furnace. Not all heroes make the pages of Scripture or the New York Times. In fact, many heroes labor in obscurity, loyally pursuing their deepest values without any film crew on hand to record their good deeds. A wife cares for her husband long after he has forgotten her name. A father loves a child who is unable to love him in return. A teen befriends the kid everyone else is working overtime to ignore. These too are heroes, manifesting courage and swimming against the tides of convenience or self-promotion. May God grant us hearts to live heroically and eyes to notice the heroes humbly living among us.

Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall