Strength, Confidence, and Courage

Courageous-posterAfter the death of Moses, Joshua took the leadership reins of the Israelites and guided them along the path to the Promised Land.  In one of his first speeches, he admonished them, saying: “Only be strong and very courageous to ensure that you obey all the instructions that my servant Moses gave you—turn neither to the right nor to the left from it—so that you may succeed wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).”

Joshua’s call to courage reminds me of the words of Alfred North Whitehead: True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.

Some people act courageously because they assess a situation and move forward with confidence in their abilities.  There are others who are just as confident, but for a different reason; their available resources give them a sense of boldness.

David is a good example of both forms of courage.  In Psalm 27, he said: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The Lord is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of? Evildoers closed in on me to tear me to pieces. My opponents and enemies stumbled and fell. Even though an army sets up camp against me, my heart will not be afraid. Even though a war breaks out against me, I will still have confidence in the Lord.

Courage, as David used it in this Psalm, is resource-based. He speaks of his trust in the presence and power of God.

Earlier in his life, David displayed courage that was focused more on his own ability.  This was the  skill he used to kill the wild animals as attacked his sheep.

There may be times when you doubt your ability, but you should never doubt God’s availability.  Just as God was present to walk David through the trials of life, He is present for you as well:

  • God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble—Psalm 46:1
  • God is the shield of Your salvation, and His right hand will support you—Psalm 18:35
  • God will deliver you because He delights in you—Psalm 18:19
  • The Lord is near the brokenhearted, and He saves those crushed in spirit—Psalm 34:18

While there’s not a single one of us who can look to the future and know for certain what challenges await us, each of us can be confident in knowing that God is waiting to guide us.

Solomon believed this, and he wisely said: “The heart of man devises his way, but the LORD directs his steps . . . He that follows after righteousness and mercy shall find life, righteousness, and honor.”

The Human Element

As I was doing a mental thumb-through of some biblical stories, the human element was center stage time and time again.  In this human element, we can find encouragment for the daily trials of life.

As most of us know, life can be full of challenges.  The next time you are faced with one, think about Moses.  He had the challenge of leading over a million people out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, through the wilderness, and to the promised land.  Throughout this difficult journey, we see that provisions were provided for each step he took.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?  Do you still have a desire to even the score?  If so, you might identify with the story of Joseph.  He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisioned.  Joseph’s faith never wavered, and it was God who evened the score.

How about disappointment?  Have you ever been disappointed by some person or some thing?  The air was full of disappointment on that long-ago Friday when Jesus died.  All of the hopes and dreams of the disciples were focused on this radical, new-found Messiah.  Some of His followers had been ostracized by society and others had been shunned by their families.  And now,  their dream had become a nightmare on the cruel cross of Calvary.

This disappointment had caused some of disciples to leave Jerusalem.  As they walked the dusty road to Emmaus, heavy hearts and a spirit of dispair overcame them.  They thought their lives were changed forever because Jesus had died.

They were right, but only half right.  Thinking the play was over they left at intermission, and they missed the final act.  A few days later the disappointment of these Christians vanished with the appearance of the resurrected Saviour.

The next time life starts to kick you and drag you down, remember there is a very human element in the pages of the Bible.  Remember that the God who did great things back then, is the same God who is at work now.  He has promised us the present of His presence in our darkest hour.

I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.