For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
-- Matthew 25:29
This is not a description of God's unfairness.. It is not a description of what ought to be. It's a description of what is -- those who have more multiply their wealth much more easily than do those in the grip of poverty. Poor people have a hard time with risk: they live in an all-or-nothing world that little resembles the cushioned reality of those with more money. Reverses of fortune will come to everyone, but they will not be fatal to everyone. A rich entrepreneur may lose a larger amount in a risky endeavor gone bad, but the smaller amount a poor one loses may be all there is.
So grow while you can. Risk whenever you can bring yourself to do so. Be bold, even when everything in you trembles with fear at your own boldness. Commit to growing, for if you do not, you will surely shrink.
Misfortune makes us fear more misfortune. Instinctively, we contract. In every arena of human experience, the same: unlucky in love, we refuse to love again, and doom ourselves to a life of loneliness. Unemployed and unrewarded in the search for work, we yield to our discouragement and stop looking. Unable to control our eating, our drinking, our gambling, our shopping -- we give up, turning our fate over to the demon of addiction who desires our death. Unable to endure our physical pain, we refuse the therapy that will help to vanquish it. It's no use, we tell ourselves bitterly, and this feels like common sense.
This is not sin. It is just the way we are. It's just our weakness -- fear guts us. Boldness is in short supply when we've been hollowed out by brutal history, whether by our own hand or another's. A power greater than our own is needed when we can't seem to do anything but curl up in a ball and wait for the end, and the courage needed to call on that power is huge.
It is a courage beyond us. We're fresh out of courage. But we're not out of desperation -- we have plenty of that. I've come to the end of my rope, we say. I am powerless. But if there is Anyone out there, come into me now. Stiffen me so I can stand again. Help me take the first step into my new life when the old one lies in shards around my feet.
My own lack of courage does not determine the sum of courage in the universe. Some of humanity's greatest achievements arose from the ashes of defeat. God enters human history, powerful but silent, almost invisible -- we look up in the darkness and see a glimmer of light.