A few years ago, my husband and I were asked to give a short presentation about our adoption journey during a service at our church. As I sat there, waiting for our turn to speak, I could feel my anxiety rising. My heart was pounding, and my stomach was tied in knots. I was getting more and more nervous by the second. “There is no logical reason for this response,” I told myself, “You shouldn’t be scared.” After all, I was going to be talking to my friends and family. My body didn’t believe me, however.
Thankfully, I knew that my body was doing what it does under stress – the fight or flight response. So, rather than interpret those body signals as danger, I instead reminded myself that my body was helping me rise to a challenge. (Because even in front of friends and family, giving a short speech really is a challenge!) That perspective shift can be the difference between cowardice and courage: being able to push through, interpreting fear signals as a challenge to be conquered. I’m not sure that I exactly “conquered” the presentation, but I was able to do it, and that in itself is also a victory.
The definition of courage
When I think of a Biblical example of courage, Joshua comes to mind. As the book of Joshua opens, we find that Moses has just passed away and left his right-hand man, Joshua, in charge. Joshua is faced with an enormous task: to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. Moses, the greatest leader Israel had ever known, had not been able to accomplish this task. The promised land was full of enemies to be conquered before it was to be theirs.
Joshua was well-equipped for the task though. He had been mentored under Moses’ leadership. Not only that, God gave him a few direct and precious promises to encourage and embolden him for the task:
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. Joshua 1: 3 ESV
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1: 5 ESV
Being given these promises was a key factor in Joshua’s courage. Knowing that God was promising the land to him, and that He would never leave or forsake him, was paramount to his being courageous in leading God’s people into battle. The context of fear changes when we have the confidence to know that we can take on the challenge! It changes fear from an insurmountable obstacle to a necessary struggle in the quest for victory.
Joshua lived thousands of years ago, but the promises are still true for believers today. Jesus sent his followers on a mission too – to go and make disciples in all nations. As he sent his apostles out, just as God sent Joshua centuries before, he promised them, “Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
That promise is for us today! If we are in Christ, He is with us always. He will go before us and will give us the strength to do all that He calls us to do in His name.
Pause: Close your eyes and ask the Lord to reveal His Word to you. Now read Joshua 1: 1-9. What stands out to you in this passage?
Renew: Think about times in your life when you were afraid but were able to act with courage anyway. What caused you to act with courage in those moments?
Next: Contemplate the phrase: “for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” If you were to own that phrase and fully believe it, how would it change the way you live? Repeat this phrase to yourself as you go throughout your day, thanking God that as a believer, He is not just with you, but His Spirit lives in you.
May you be filled with courage to take on any challenge that the Lord may lead you through!
Pause, Renew, Next!