Courage in the Face of Adversity
About the Guest
What courageous thing have you done lately? Barbara Rainey talks about the amazing power of courage. Drawing from her devotional, Barbara tells the story of a college student named Sophie who dared to challenge the government during Hitler’s reign.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
What courageous thing have you done lately?
Courage in the Face of Adversity
Bob: Courage is something that seems to be in short supply in our day. Are you raising your children to be courageous young men and women? Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: In almost every situation when we are called upon to be courageous, there is something at stake. It may not be your life. If your kid is on the playground and he’s being bullied, well he has an opportunity to stand up and be courageous and stick up for what he believes. It could be your reputation. It could be a number of things but there is always some level of risk involved.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, November 1st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How can we raise our sons and daughters not to be foolish, but to be courageous? We’re going to talk about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m going to talk to your wife here for just a minute, if you don’t mind. She’s in the studio with us, and I just want to talk with her for a sec. Is that okay?
Dennis: That’s fine.
Barbara: Hi, Bob.
Bob: Hi, Barbara.
Dennis: I had a way to introduce her that was going to be spectacular, but that’s okay.
Bob: Well, save it. We’ll have another opportunity for that.
Bob: Welcome, by the way.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Bob: It’s nice to have you here. I just think we need to prepare our listeners, and you can do this for us. If our listeners ever wind up having dinner with you and Dennis in any kind of a setting. . .
Dennis: (laughter) You’re not going to do this. You’re not going to tip off our listeners and tell them. . .
Bob: We got it. They should be prepared for the question that they are going to be asked at the table, don’t you think?
Barbara: Yes, they should. Yes, they should.
Bob: Because if it comes at you just random, out of the blue, it’s hard to zero in.
Bob: But I can’t think of a meal I’ve been near with you guys in the last five years. . .
Dennis: Hey, look . . .
Bob: where this question has not been asked.
Dennis: Here’s the deal. We get together with other people, whether it’s a table for four . . .
Bob: Last Saturday night, we had a group together and you asked the question, didn’t you?
Dennis: I did.
Barbara: He did.
Dennis: I think there were eight of us at the table (or seven – Barbara wasn’t there), and I made this statement. I said “Why should we bore ourselves with ourselves and have small talk. . .”
Barbara: About trivial things that don’t matter.
Dennis: Well, you know, it’s just easy to have two people talking at a table . . .
Bob: Excuse me. I was talking to your wife. Can we go ahead and continue?
Dennis: So I asked a question. . .
Bob: Tell everybody. What’s the question?
Barbara: I will tell the question, if he’ll let me.
Dennis: It really helps people get to know the people they’re having dinner with. You may be having dinner with a friend . . .
Bob: Will you excuse us? We’re trying to have a conversation here.
Barbara: This is hilarious, watching you two. I think you were brothers, separated at birth, and now you’re getting back into each other.
Dennis: No, he was born in St. Louis.
Barbara: Oh, that’s true.
Dennis: I was born down near Branson, a long ways away.
Bob: I am the younger brother, and I’ve been picked on my whole life.
So at dinner, what is the question anybody around the table is going to get asked?
Barbara: He loves to ask the question, “What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?” It is a difficult question to answer, although it is fascinating. There are some people who know instantly what the answer to the question is, and they are often really ready to share it because they know so quickly what the answer to it is. But there are others who sit at the table and they ponder and they think, and a frequent comment is: “I’ve never done anything courageous in my whole life.”
But Dennis always pushes back and says, “No, that’s not an answer. I’ll bet there is something that you have done that’s courageous.” And after they think about it for a while and listen to some of the other answers, they come up with something. We’ve heard some amazing stories.
Bob: Here’s my question. Most of the time when you’re at a table and everybody goes around and they share, by the time the meal is over, at least a few people, and usually Dennis, haven’t had a chance to share their story, have they? I mean, have you heard him share the most courageous thing he’s ever done?
Barbara: Yes. Sure.
Bob: Because all my friends from last Saturday night said, “We never got to hear Dennis’ most courageous thing.”
Dennis: Did they rat on me?
Bob: Yes, they did. So I want to know. Where did you come up with that question in the first place? What made you even think of it?
Dennis: I’m not sure. Truthfully, some day I may end up writing a book of people’s answers to this question, because you really don’t hear the kind of answers that you’d think you’d hear. I’ve had the standard answer of a former governor of the state of Arkansas, not Mike Huckabee, but Frank White. His most courageous thing was flying in a plane that was riddled with bullets. I can’t remember what war. Maybe it was the Korean War, but he flew that thing back crippled, and arrived and landed safely.
I remember I had a guy say he walked into an apartment where there was a guy with a gun, holding everyone up, and the guy attacked him. He said, “I didn’t even think! I just did what was instinctive.”
I’ve had other things that occurred on battlefields, and you would think that is what you’d get, but the most frequent thing that someone says has to do with being courageous around their parents, doing something in response to taking a stand, being a man, standing up to his father and saying, “No, Dad, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to be my own man.” Or a young lady [standing up] to her mother or to her father.
It’s really fascinating: relationships in life demand a lot of courage, because courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s doing something in the face of fear.
Bob: Of course, the reason I bring it up is because you have been working for many months now on putting together a devotional for families around this subject. A year ago you did a devotional around the subject of gratitude, right?
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: And it was a seven-day devotional, actually seven stories, designed to stimulate conversation, in that case around gratitude. When you sat down and said, “Okay, the next one I’m going to do is going to be on courage,” why that?
Barbara: Well, I think families need to talk about courage. I think our children are faced with situations at school all the time that demand that they take a courageous stand, whether it’s standing up to a bully on a playground, or refusing to give in to peer pressure as a teenager, our kids are facing lots of situations as they grow up where they need to exhibit courage of one kind or another.
I think it’s a topic we don’t think to talk about a lot with our kids. We talk about doing what’s right, we talk about telling the truth, but we don’t really put it in the context of that being a courageous decision or a courageous action. I think by focusing on it that way, it really helps to crystallize why it’s important and why we need to be courageous.
Dennis: You’re not just talking about children being courageous, though.
Barbara: No, I’m not.
Dennis: You also have in mind as these things are being read aloud at the dinner table, or maybe just between a husband and a wife, that the adults will take a step up, too.
Barbara: That’s correct. The stories are not just for children. They are stories that children can follow, and listen and understand, but they are stories that I hope will also capture older teens and moms and dads, because it’s a topic that the entire family needs to think about and talk about and discuss and say, “What does this look like for us? Where can we be courageous as a family and as individuals? What does that look like?”
Dennis: Personally, I think we are living in a new day . . .
Barbara: I agree.
Dennis: When husbands and wives, moms and dads, and perhaps grandparents, I think are going to be forced to take courageous stands as never before as true followers of Christ. I really believe this. I think the battle is coming to us, and if we don’t know what our core convictions are from the Scripture and what we truly believe . . .
Barbara and I wrote a book called Parenting Today’s Adolescent, and in that book we talked about near-beliefs – not quite beliefs, they are near-beliefs. They are things we would change our mind about if perhaps we were confronting a dangerous situation. But near-beliefs aren’t going to float and aren’t going to fly in this culture.
Dennis: You’re going to have to have some serious convictions and you’re going to have to accompany those convictions with courage.
Bob: Do you think we live in a day – and I’ll ask your wife this, since she wrote the book. Is that okay?
Dennis: Why are you asking me? (Laughter) You completely took over at the beginning.
Bob: And our listeners are just saying, “Thank you for that,” so do you think we live in a day where we lack courage?
Barbara: I think we do. I think our prosperity has numbed us. I think the ease of our lifestyle has taken away lots of opportunities to be courageous. I mean, survival for so many centuries required courage every day from people. Yes, there are people who are still struggling to survive today in our country, but for the majority of Americans, life is pretty easy. I think our opportunities to display courage have been reduced or maybe made lesser just because of the kind of environment that we live in.
We’re not living in a war-torn country. We’re not living in a country where people are starving around us, and we have to decide “Do I share what tiny little bit of rice I have with this person over here next to me?” We don’t have those kinds of opportunities to display courage. They are more subtle and there are fewer of them.
Dennis: Courage may appear in the PTA meeting. It may occur with another set of parents whose values you may differ with as you raise your children and you have to take a stand.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: It may be in the choices you make of what kind of movies you’re going to rent, what kind of places you’re going to go.
Bob: Where you are going to say “yes” or “no” to a teenager who is pushing back. That takes courage.
Barbara: Yes, it does.
Dennis: It really does, Bob. I think the verse for the day that we really don’t hear preached much anymore is Romans 12:1-2. When I was first growing, and first really gave my life to Christ and started seriously following him, I just kind of felt like a bunch of people in the Christian community were camped out in Romans 12:1,2. They just talked about that a lot.
And the reason is, it’s talking about really fully yielding yourself to be used by God fully, and not being conformed to the world. I fear today there is a lot of conformity when there needs to be courage to stand against those messages.
Let me just read this passage. Paul says, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I think conformity goes with the flow. It says, “Yeah, you know, I’ll just go along. We’ll just cave in to peer pressure here.”
Barbara: And people say, “Oh, it’s not that bad. It’s not that big a deal.” It’s real easy to compromise and to settle for less.
Dennis: And if there’s ever been a day when families ought to be talking about courage . . .
Dennis: and parents ought to be demonstrating courage, it’s today.
Barbara: Yes, I agree.
Dennis: Because this culture is in the process of robbing individual moms and dads, husbands and wives, and I believe singles, of their moral courage. So they cave in, and the easiest thing to do? Go with the flow.
Bob: You knew the soap box was going to come out here, didn’t you?
Barbara: Yes, I guess I did.
Bob: I mean, when you started writing this, didn’t you know?
Dennis: She was writing this thing, and she’d send me . . . we would be in the same house, just a few rooms away from each other – our house is not that big – and I’d get an email. She’d say, “Read this,” and I’d nearly come out of my seat, I’d be so excited. I really think this topic is the topic of the day for Christian families. It’s going to cost you to be a Christian family.
Bob: How do you envision this devotional – and this is a part of a series.
Bob: You want to do a whole series of devotionals around character qualities or character traits to reinforce these themes with families, right?
Barbara: Correct. The reason that I’ve designed them the way I have is that when we were raising our children there was nothing available that would span the ages of all of our kids. We had six kids, so when the youngest was five the oldest was 15. Well, finding something that would appeal to a five-year-old and a 15-year-old is a tall order.
Barbara: And secondly, when you did find some kind of devotion that you could read or some king of family activity, every day it’s a different topic. It’s very random and very scattered. There are no visuals either. Most devotional books are just little tiny words on a piece of white paper, and it’s not very interesting to look at.
So I wanted to create something that would appeal to children of all ages, as young as five and as old as eighteen, and the parents. I also wanted it to be topical, so that for a week you’re talking about gratitude, over and over and over. And then another week you pick up the book on courage, and for a week you as parents are talking to your kids about the topic of courage. And when you repeat any kind of instruction, it’s going to last longer. So when you’ve got this opportunity to repetitively talk about a particular topic, you’re going to make a little bit more headway in your kids’ lives.
Bob: I loved the Book of Virtues when it came out, because it did take those character qualities and gave poems and stories and gave historical accounts. We spent a lot of nights where we were thumbing through . . .
Barbara: We had it too.
Bob: But I also remember that I zeroed in on a handful of the stories that became some of our favorites, and others I’d just flip by. What you’ve done in isolating seven stories is, you’ve kind of done the pre-sifting and say “Look, these are seven powerful, compelling examples of different aspects of courage.”
Dennis: In fact, if these stories don’t light your fire, your wood is wet. It is really wet, because the stories she tells in here are of people who showed huge heroism in the face of obstacles, and in some cases at peril of their own lives. I think, Bob, today these are days are when we need to talk about the chest and the heart that people have and call that heart out and say, “You know what, you can take a stand there. You can take a stand for Jesus Christ and do what’s right. You know what? It may cost you if you do.”
Bob: I was talking to Barbara and you kind of interrupted her.
Dennis: I’m not going to apologize.
Barbara: I think he’s liking this topic. What do you think?
Bob: A little passion here on the subject.
Dennis: Yes, there’s a reason for that, too, and you know what it is. I’m just finishing up work on a book to men. It is about how men can step up courageously to be God’s man. Personally, I just think this topic is really a hot topic.
Bob: So, I’m sorry, what were you starting to say there, Barbara?
Barbara: I don’t remember.
Bob: Of the stories – and you had to read dozens of stories –
Barbara: Lots of stories, yes.
Bob: Pick one of the ones that you selected and tell me why you picked it.
Barbara: Well, let me say this first, generally. I wanted every single story that I included to be compelling and memorable, so it’s really hard for me to say which one is my very favorite, because they are all so different. But they just capture your imagination, and you have to have that if you’ve got a five- or six-year-old listening to a story. You’ve got to have something that is going to capture their imagination and is going to make them sit up and pay attention, even if they don’t understand all the words.
Dennis: So tell them the “White Rose” story.
Barbara: The White Rose.
Bob: So you’re telling me if I said to you that you could only pick one story to keep – of all of the stories you read you could only pick one to keep, you just couldn’t do it, could you?
Barbara: It would be really hard.
Dennis: A lot of our listeners know that Bob has a tremendous root of bitterness toward me because I occasionally will ask the question. . .
Bob: Occasionally? All the time! “Out of all of the memories that you’ve ever had, which one would you keep?” So I just thought I’d throw it out, and it’s impossible, isn’t it? Right? What’s the “White Rose” story?
Barbara: The White Rose is a story about a young woman named Sophie Scholl. She had three or four brothers and sisters and grew up in Germany. She was about 15 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. By the time she got to the University as an entering college freshman, things had really changed in the country and the war had begun and things were really, really difficult.
She banded together with her brother, who was a couple of years ahead of her, and a friend of her brother’s to form this little society, this little organization that they called “The White Rose.” As college students – this is part of the reason that I love this story – here you’ve got these three college students who dared to take on the government of Germany. They opposed the Third Reich and Hitler, the most evil man of the 20th Century, or one of them anyway.
I just think it’s remarkable that you have these three twenty-somethings who dared to push back on the evil of their day. And I think it is instructive for our kids. I want my kids, who are adults, to read this because I don’t think they know the story of Sophie. I didn’t before I started working on this. But her life inspires me. That she at 20, 21 and 22 – those three years of her life – was willing to put her neck on the line, literally, is a stunning story and it’s one that we need to be familiar with, because it’s inspiring.
Bob: Many of these are neck-on-the-line stories, I mean it’s life or death. There’s something about courage that it is really called to the front when you say, “Okay, I could lose my life, but I’m not backing down.”
Barbara: That’s right. And a number of them were in situations where they could have lost their lives. Some did and some didn’t. But many of these situations that these people found themselves in were life and death. And often times we are called upon to be courageous in a very hard situation. If your kid is on the playground at school and he is in a situation where someone is bullying him or her, he has an opportunity to stand up and be courageous and stick up for what he believes or what the issue is that they are having this little tiff about.
So, in doing all this research for this, I realized that in almost every situation where we are called upon to be courageous, there is something at stake. It may not be your life. It could be your reputation, it could be your job, it could be a number of things, but there is always some level of risk involved.
Bob: And Dennis, I think it is maybe easier to be courageous – this sounds weird – but sometimes it is easier to step up and be courageous when the stakes are high, but it’s a little harder to be courageous in the smaller acts, because they seem insignificant and we just get passive. Do you know what I mean?
Dennis: I do.
Barbara: I think that’s right.
Dennis: As parents, I felt like we were facing issues daily as we raised our teenagers that demanded courage on our part, because we weren’t running a popularity contest with our kids. We realized that we had standards, we believed in the Scriptures. We didn’t want that to crush our kids, but on the other hand, we didn’t want to lower our standards in light of the culture.
I’ll tell you, folks need to find out about the story of The White Rose and what happened to Sophie, because here were three young people who paid the ultimate price. You’re talking about courage that stood, as Barbara said, in the face of the ultimate evil of the 20th century. Our children are being challenged today, I think, to stand in front of all kinds of evil at school, in sports, in the culture, all kinds of choices. If we don’t teach them how to be courageous, I’m afraid they won’t be.
Bob: You know, I was thinking back to an interview we did a number of years ago on the issue of morality and why children don’t seem to know right from wrong. In fact, I think the author had written a book called Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong. His premise was that we learn morality and ethics and character qualities from history, from story, and from example, from what’s modeled for us. Really, Barbara, what you have provided for us in this devotional for families is a series of the stories.
That’s one component of how we influence our children, how we help them cultivate a courageous heart. These are powerful, compelling stories that work for children from elementary school up. It’s easy to read one at the dinner table or at the breakfast table or just when you get together for time as a family in the evening.
The book is out now. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. It’s called Growing Together in Courage. It is seven devotions for families on this theme. It’s available online at FamilyLifeToday.com. In fact, I don’t think it’s available anywhere else right now. I think the only place you can get it is here at FamilyLife Today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order a copy online or call1-800-FL TODAY, that's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “Today,” and we can make arrangements to have copies of the book sent to you. Again, I-800-FLTODAY is the number, or online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, I’ll tell you what, it encourages us, it gives us courage, when listeners contact FamilyLife to help support the ministry. We are listener-supported, and we appreciate those of you who will call in from time to time or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation to help support the ministry.
You are helping to cover the costs associated with producing and syndicating this daily radio program, having it on a network of stations all across the country, and online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We appreciate very much your partnership with us and just want to say thanks for your financial support for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
We want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow, when we are going to talk more about how we can help cultivate a heart of courage in our children and in ourselves.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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