What do you think of when you hear the word courage? Do you think of someone doing something incredibly brave because they had a lot of courage? Do you think of someone without fear?
When I think of courage, I think of someone doing something incredibly courageous in the midst of a horrifically dangerous situation.
Even Webster's defines courage as - "the ability to face danger without fear."
But, you know, I don't think courage really means any of those things. I think I even have to take exception with Webster here. To me, a truer definition of courage is facing danger even in the midst of fear. I don't know that there is anyone anywhere who has ever been totally fearless when facing danger.
"..the ability to do something that frightens one."
"firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty."
"choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation."
Nelson Mandela said it like this - "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
My thoughts today about courage centered around my devotional this morning. I want to share it with you. This comes from the book Longing for More by Timothy Willard:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
"Remember, dear reader, courage-talk is not just a pep talk. Pep talks work well in sports, but we do not play at life. We live it. God's words to Joshua remain ever popular because so many of us need encouragement. We need courage.
Keep in mind that God is not offering Joshua and the Israelites a shot in the arm, a "go get 'em!" speech. He's digging into their weakness and challenging them. Keep your faith strong and be steadfast in your courage, he says - the very thing they struggled with earlier (see Deuteronomy 1:26-36).
Is God wagging his holy finger at them, almost teasing them? No, quite the contrary. His message sounds similar to the message he gives to us through Christ Jesus: 'I have already gone before you. I have promised that I will come through for you, and I will. You take courage, my son, my daughter, because I will never leave you nor forsake you.' In Deuteronomy 31:23 God says, 'Be strong and courageous for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.'"
I think the key to being able to be courageous is found in the verse quoted above, "for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Sometimes I think it takes more courage to wake up to another mundane day, knowing things have not changed overnight. You have to get up, put one foot in front of the other and walk through that day knowing it's going to be the same as it was yesterday and tomorrow will be the say as today. But you are able to do that because you know the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Sometimes I think it take more courage to listen to yet another doctor tell you that things are not any better today and, in fact, they may never get any better but you are able to walk through your day because you know the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you no forsake you.
He is the one who gives you the courage, the strength, the steadfast resolve to remain in your faith even in the midst of unfavorable circumstances.
It takes courage to remain faithful when your whole life is falling apart around you. It takes courage to remain faithful when your prayers go seemingly unanswered day after day after day. It takes courage to remain faithful when you feel without hope in a situation. It takes courage to remain faithful when nothing, absolutely nothing is different from day to day.
It takes courage to remain faithful. But we can remain faithful and do remain faithful when we continue to remind ourselves of this very truth:
"for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Because I know He goes with me and will never leave me nor forsake me, I can have courage to face whatever it is I need to face today.
"Today's Prayer" in my devotional was this -
"Lord Jesus, I know in the past I have wavered. I continue to say the right things about faith and being steadfast, but I falter. Forgive my weak faith and strengthen me, O my God! Be my strength - for you will never leave me. You are the strong one. You are the steadfast one. As I put you on - my spiritual clothing - may your courage be mine."
I have made this my prayer today. Won't you make it yours?