These things are hard for all of us. And in my case, it’s not just an academic exercise. I lost a husband over this. Perhaps it’s useful to notice that while the verse in James says fervent prayer ‘availeth much,’ it does not say it ‘availeth everything.’ Why? Because the Abu Sayyaf—and all of us—still retain the power of personal choice, the option of standing stubbornly against the will of God. And that obstinate stance is, apparently, something an almighty God is not willing to bulldoze.
As Christians, we’re faced with a problem difficult to see because it’s so obvious. We’re aware of Jesus, but we are obsessed with Christianity. We’re stuck on its requirements and we’re defined by its doctrines, caught in an endless struggle to find out where we fit, if we’ve ‘arrived’ yet, and if we’re doing it right. We struggle with sin, and yet, because of the boundaries, we’re forced to decide between being honest about our feelings and hiding for fear we’ll be judged. In this state, we’re not living in the grace of Jesus. We’re trying to maintain our membership.
Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis.
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. . . A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908), Ch. 6 The Paradoxes of Christianity.