the grace of courage

After an earthquake and tsunami, Japan’s disaster saga continues to steamroll a grieving and exhausted nation.  A reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is nearing meltdown.  The building’s damaged, and with no electricity there’s no way to keep pumping water onto the radioactive fuel rods.  Aerial dumps of water have been somewhat ineffective with much of the water dispersed by winds.  Police and fire trucks have also sprayed water from the ground.
What leaves me in awe are the some 50 technicians who stayed behind yesterday as many others were evacuated, risking their lives in hopes of sparing Japan yet another disaster.  Because of the heat inside they are probably not wearing as much protective gear as those outside, yet radiation levels were at 400 millisieverts.  Most nuclear plant workers around the world don’t absorb more than 1 millisievert in an entire year.  
I salute them; that’s putting it all on the line.  As I pray for these selfless people I wonder about my own willingness to shoulder a great risk for others or my God.  Football great Reggie White used to say, “God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.”  Really?  Is it just that you either have the stuff of courage or you don’t? 
Studying Revelation we keep stumbling over bodies; people who’ve died for Jesus.  The great tribulation will be a religious bloodbath.  If my understanding of eschatology is correct neither I nor Christians alive before the rapture will be here to see it.  But it will be brutal for those who are.  

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  5:9
The dragon [Satan]… went off to make war against… those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.  12:17
He [antichrist] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. 13:7
If anyone [Christian in the end times] is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.  13:10

How will they do it?  I used to drive myself crazy trying to think my way through the question: could I die for Jesus?  Do I have the guts, the bravery, the courage, the right stuff with which to endure the torture, the sword or the bullet?  

No.  I think, at my core, I’m a coward.  Regardless of what Reggie thinks, God might still place this act of ultimate worship on my shoulders.  If He does, my cowardice will not be the thing anyone remembers.  They will remember the grace God gives me to face the call.  We are warned to stand firm in our faith (1 Cor.16:13), but here’s the backstage view: Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ (2 Cor.1:21).  May God likewise sustain those brave Japanese workers.