Courage is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty”.
Sometimes it is difficult to have courage. It’s difficult to face fear with boldness. It’s difficult to walk into the unknown with strength and tenacity. Persevering and withstanding uncomfortable unknowns is a daunting task.
The Bible shows us many examples of people who were courageous in their pursuit of what God called them to do. Let’s look at one instance in Joshua 1:9.
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NLT
In this portion of Scripture, God was speaking to Joshua. He was calling Joshua to fill the shoes of his predecessor, Moses. God told Joshua that he was to lead the people of Israel into the places God had promised their ancestors. Talk about a tall order! But God did not just tell Joshua to lead in Moses’ stead without direction. He was given instructions by Moses and God promised to be with Joshua every step of the way. “I will not fail you or abandon you,” he says in Joshua 1:5.
Joshua was walking into an unknown future. One with potential danger, difficulty and he was likely afraid. However, God continually reminds Joshua that He is can be trusted to protect and guide. Let’s take a look at other scriptures where God reminds us of His character when it comes to fear or facing difficult situations.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT
“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalms 56:3-4 NLT
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
“See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.””
Isaiah 12:2 NLT
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.””
Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT
“So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!”
Psalms 31:24 NLT
“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”
Psalms 16:8 NLT
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NLT
Esther’s story is another of courage in the face of the unknown. Esther stood for her people, despite the potential of great backlash during the time. She was appointed queen, though her heritage was kept a secret. When her people were threatened with death, she approached the king to request that she and her people be spared. This act alone required great courage.
In such times, the mere act of appearing before the king uninvited could result in death. Yet she found favor with the king and in the end, she was granted the request to save her people. The king even went on to be viewed as “very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants.” (Esther 10:3 NLT).
Esther’s courage to stand up for her people was quite literally a life-or-death scenario. Esther’s uncle asked her, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NLT). We may not find ourselves in quite the same shoes as Esther did, however, the same question can be posed: What in your life could you have been selected by God for ‘such a time’ to accomplish or pursue? Is there something that God has spoken to you or guided you in the direction of that seems daunting? How can you find the courage to withstand the fear or difficulty ahead?
David is a third example of following God’s lead with courage. He often writes of courage in the Psalms. David’s experiences led to him viewing the Lord as his strength, protection, and shelter. As a shepherd, he relied on the strength God had given him to ward off predators of his flock of sheep. As a young man, when he faced Goliath, he relied on the Lord for victory. When he was leading his troops or on the run from King Saul, David relied on God for protection and shelter. Psalm 27 is a great study in finding courage and relying on the Lord.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.
The one thing I ask of the Lord
— the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.
Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Psalms 27:1-14 NLT
As we reflect on the stories of courage from those in the Bible, it is easy to downplay how these could apply to our lives today. Maybe you aren’t in a life-or-death moment requiring courage. Still, there is very likely something that you are facing that is daunting. It could be a change at your job that is dangerous to your livelihood. Maybe you need to have a challenging conversation with a loved one and you’re afraid of their response. Perhaps your season of life is difficult and you are lacking in community. Ask the Lord to instill courage for the response He is guiding you towards. Meditate on the scriptures in this post, spend time praying and listening to God, and move forward in what God is calling you to do.