By David Faust
Three times in four verses, the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-9). Joshua needed courage to step into the shoes previously occupied by Moses, lead the Israelites through the flooded Jordan River, and overcome Jericho’s fortified walls.
Courage brings to mind military heroes like the troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. It makes us think of brave adventurers like Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, or John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth (and who flew into space again at age 77). Athletes show courage when they run marathons and stay on the football field blocking and tackling when the game goes into overtime. Biblical figures like Moses, Esther, Daniel, and Paul demonstrated boldness—and no one showed more courage than Jesus.
The Quiet Kind of Courage
For most of us, life is routine, not dramatic; but everyday challenges require courage, too. Who needs courage? Anxious kids heading off to another day at school. Students seeking to honor Christ on a university campus. Young adults starting a new job. Single moms bringing up children on a tight budget. Preachers called to speak uncomfortable truth in a culture that doesn’t want to hear it.
New parents need courage. So do patients facing surgery, workers who suddenly find themselves unemployed, senior adults coming to terms with aging and death, and leaders of a small group who need to confront a friend whose behavior is out of line. Where can ordinary folks like us find courage?
Here are four factors that can increase our boldness.
• Deeply held beliefs. If you believe something strongly enough, you will stand up for it regardless of the cost. America’s founders made enormous sacrifices because they wanted succeeding generations to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Abraham Lincoln endured ridicule and hardship because he believed slavery was wrong and the Union must be preserved. First-century Christians endured intense persecution because of the undeniable fact of Jesus’ resurrection. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12). Courage grows as convictions deepen.
• Genuine concern for others. Normally I wouldn’t run out into a busy street and take the chance of getting hit by a car, but if I saw one of my beloved granddaughters in harm’s way, I definitely would send my wife out to rescue them! Love for others compels us to risk safety and sacrifice comfort. Courage grows as compassion deepens.
• God’s presence. The Lord told Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
• God’s promises. Scripture builds boldness. It can make our words more compelling. “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips” (Joshua 1:8a). It can improve our thinking and decision making. “Meditate on it day and night” (v. 8b). It can motivate us to action. “Be careful to do everything written in it” (v. 8c).
Don’t sit back and wait for heroic opportunities to arise. Trust God boldly in the ordinary challenges you face every day. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s choosing to live by faith in spite of your fear.
Personal Challenge: What makes you afraid? Are you relying on God’s power to help you overcome your fears? Ask the Lord to help you do something (large or small) this week that will stretch your faith and demonstrate courage.