A few situations in my life as of late have required doses of courage I simply do not possess in my own strength. I seem to be drawing from a dry well. Be it through hard conversations I’m forced to enter into, changes I must make in daily routines, or unexpected expenses that leave my budget stretched, sometimes life exposes my very natural cowardice.
“Courage? Courage? Can I get a little courage over here?” When courage doesn’t wander in and find me I start asking for it a little more desperately. “Lord, would you give me the courage I need to…(fill in the blank)….?”
Asking isn’t always enough.
The problem is the doing whatever it is I must do; the action step. Instead of asking for courage and then obeying, sometimes my asking is nothing more than mindless questioning followed by little to no action followed by mounds of anxiety. It isn’t really depending on God if I never expect He’ll provide me with the courage to move. I ask God for courage like my kids ask for a snack, I tune out before getting an answer:
“Moooooooom? Can I have a snack?” they question.
I nod my head. They aren’t looking. “Yes” I holler. “What?” they holler back. “Can I have a snack?” they yell louder. As the conversation escalates I grow more and more impatient over their failure to hear my numerous offerings of permission and eventually I snap and yell (albeit sinfully) “YES! GO GET A SNACK!”
When I face situations that demand courage and I don’t immediately feel a tidal wave of bravery wash over me, it’s tempting to stand still with knocking knees. And though it’s great to ask God to help me out, at some point I’ve got to take ownership of the promises He has offered me and put one foot in front of the other in obedient faith.
In King Asa was tasked with tearing down idols and reinstating worship of the one true God. The Spirit of God comes upon Azariah and instructs Asa not to fear: “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” And so Asa took courage and put away the detestable idols from the land of Judah ().
By God’s grace the men of Israel took courage and formed a battle line (), Johiada took courage and entered into a covenant (), and Amaziah took courage and led his people into battle (). When God calls Ezra () to go and preach repentance to the people, Ezra says he “took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on [him].”
Like these men of the Old Testament, I too, have reason to take courage. The gospel grants me both permission to feel courageous and power to be filled with courage – because the gospel gives me hope. Because Christ made a way for me to have communion with God for eternity, I can come boldly before the throne of God and tell Him when I am afraid. Because Christ died for my sins, I know that suffering and sadness here on Earth isn’t the end of my story. And because I believe God is working all things together for my good, I know Christ is redeeming even my fears and insecurities for His glory.
The very same hand that rested on Ezra, providing Him strength and courage, holds and guards me today. In Christ, I have been given eternal life and the promise that no one will snatch me out of my Father’s hand (). Neither will any situation, any struggle, or any strife. In Christ, I am protected from anything and everything I might fear. And courage is mine for the taking.
What are you afraid of today that is keeping you from taking courage? What do you need to let go of in order to believe in His promises? What are you waiting for?
Don’t just ask for courage. Take it.
7 But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” (ESV)
8 As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord. (ESV)
31:1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2 Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
3 For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord! (ESV)
22 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. (ESV)
23:1 But in the seventh year Jehoiada took courage and entered into a covenant with the commanders of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri. (ESV)
11 But Amaziah took courage and led out his people and went to the Valley of Salt and struck down 10,000 men of Seir. (ESV)
28 and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me. (ESV)
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)