We applaud courage. We love stories of courage. Of triumph and bravery and tales of strength.
I can try until I’m blue in the face to muster courage, but my own efforts to attain it are lacking. Without Jesus as the source, my “courage” won’t get me anywhere. There’s no hope in courage in myself.
While the world may say otherwise, it isn’t up to us to make ourselves feel courageous; it’s up to us to trust our source of courage.
We have courage because God is with us.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)
He tells us to be courageous because He equips us with courage. It’s just a matter of using it. So, what is courage really?
Before we can live courageously, we need to uncover the abstract shadow that accompanies the word “courage.” It is often used to mean “bravery” or “boldness,” yet that is pretty broad. This definition brings more clarity: “Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
Let’s break this down.
To have courage sometimes means stepping out of our comfort zones. To take a step (or what feels like a giant leap) into the unknown.
In Deuteronomy 31, Moses gave a commissioning to Joshua as He took over leading the Israelites into the new land. Telling the people to be courageous, he reassured them that the Lord was going before them and with them, and that He would not leave them.
After Moses died, the Lord spoke the same message to Joshua. His instruction to be courageous was a command (Josh. 1:9). God followed up the command, again, with the reassurance of His presence with Joshua.
In the same way, we can go into the places the Lord calls us because He goes before us. He goes with us. Step out in courage and “do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut. 31:8).
Once you step out and are walking in the plans God has for you, trials will come. You likely have already experienced this. Courage equips you in these seasons to push through and persevere.
In the book of Judges, the people of Israel were at war with the tribe of Benjamin. They went out to fight, but the Benjaminites destroyed 22,000 Israelites. Can you imagine the remaining Israelite survivors trudging back to their camp? Talk about discouragement. Yet they continued to fight.
But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. (Judges 20:22)
They took courage. It was difficult. The following text says they wept and inquired of the Lord. That second day of battle, the Benjaminites destroyed 18,000 of their people. Worn and weary, the Israelites sought the Lord again. This time He declared they would defeat the people of Benjamin, and “the LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel” (Judges 20:35). Not only is this a story of perseverance and trusting in God; it is a reminder that He is the One who fights our battles.
The Israelites’ courage from the Lord kept them going. The Lord also gives us courage to keep going.
Sometimes we’re in seasons of waiting. Even while we’re going through our days and actively following Jesus, we may be waiting on God for a variety of reasons. David knew about waiting and wrote on this throughout the psalms. He said,
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 31:24)
While we wait, this courage is available to us! Let your heart take it. God gives us courage in the unknown to steady our hearts as we trust in Him.
Paul saw courage almost as a mindset, saying,
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:6–8)
Whether we’re withstanding the storms that come or begging God for an answer, He gives us courage to stabilize our restless hearts.
The Picture of Courage
God, who gave courage and was with the Israelites and David, came to earth as Jesus and was called Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). Now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, His Holy Spirit dwells inside of those who believe. God is always with us. That is why we have courage. He is our hope.
Courage can show up in a lot of ways.
Courage looks like starting over in a new season.
Courage looks like getting back up after life’s punches leave you breathless.
Courage looks like waiting for the light to seep through the persistent storms.
Courage looks like fighting against the lies you have believed for so long with truth.
Courage looks like becoming vulnerable and making a new friend.
Courage looks like wild trust as you say “yes” to an adventure up ahead.
Friend, let your heart take courage today. The Lord goes before you. He is with you. And He won’t ever leave.