Courage

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Psalm 27:14

Courage. The word caught my eye as I sat outside the doorway leading to the room where my mom lay sick in bed. In a season such as this, I felt anything but courageous. Fear, anxiety and confusion consumed my heart and mind as I contemplated the uncertainty of the road ahead.

Far from feeling empowered to confront this challenge head-on, I felt more like a small and timid child, looking for a place to hide. In the midst of a million questions and the heaviness of it all threatening to close in on me, I glanced up and like a flashing neon sign, there it was: Be of good courage.

I had walked through that doorway hundreds of times in recent weeks and never noticed it. But this night, in His great compassion and understanding, the Lord knew I needed this message of hope. He chose to use a plaque that had been hanging on the wall in the exact same place for years, to speak truth to my heart. The words brought light into the darkness, breathing life into the very place where the enemy was seeking to bring death. Not just physical death but the death of courage, of faith, of hope. God has a way of calling out from within us qualities that we aren’t even sure we possess but that He knows have been planted in our hearts all along, waiting for the opportune time to be brought to the forefront and cultivated into maturity.

For me, this day, this season, called for the development of courage.

The definition of courage is, “the ability to do something that frightens one.” That sounds great, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t love to have an abundance of courage held in reserve for the moments when fear starts to rear its ugly head?

Unfortunately, courage is not something that can be easily stockpiled. It seems to only be available in the precise moment it is needed. It is not a one-time acquisition that makes you invincible from that point forward. While the Lord is ever-faithful to meet our needs, He still wants us to remain dependent on Him, remembering where the provision is found. In choosing to keep this trait as one that we must continually seek out, the Lord encourages us to keep coming to Him with our fear.

We all face fear-inducing situations in our lives everyday. Some we have no control over, such as chronic illnesses, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, the actions of other people that negatively affect our own lives. Other times we encounter situations where we have a bit more input regarding our next steps. We are presented with opportunities to pursue connection with those around us, the chance to try something new and unfamiliar, potential endeavors that bring equal possibility of success and failure. It can be tempting to respond to these types of situations in an attempt to self-protect. We do our best to remain as comfortable as possible, avoiding anything that might cause anxiety or distress. We numb the pain, reject the discomfort, ignore the cold, hard realities in front of us and pretend that everything is fine. This world provides plenty of distractions and tools for us to utilize if this is the path we choose.

Or, when confronted with the choice of how to respond in the face of fear, we can choose the path of courage.

We can trust the Lord to meet us where we are and infuse us with the supernatural ability to take the next step, frightening though it may be. We can determine to believe that there is more to our story and more to this life than simply avoiding hard and scary things at all costs. We can choose to acknowledge that as we wait upon the Lord and take hold of the courage He offers us, we can receive the strength that this verse promises. We can indeed make it through the unexpected twists and turns of life, and we might even find ourselves seeking out the path of courage voluntarily.

We get to decide if the risk is worth it. I would like to suggest that just maybe, it is.

Because in accepting these challenges, we are invited to draw closer to the heart of God. He has prepared in advance good works for us to walk in and while the path may be perilous and unpredictable at times, the easy road with no bumps or potholes will never satisfy us when we were made for more.

There is something strangely addictive about courageously stepping out in faith, directed by the Lord, and watching to see how He uses your humble act of obedience. Each time we choose the courageous route, we are declaring the faithfulness of our God through our actions.

Notice in this verse that the commands to “wait on the Lord” and “be of good courage” precede the promise that “[the Lord] will strengthen your heart.”

Oftentimes you will not feel the strength in the moment. There are times you must choose to act in faith and grab hold of courage while the outcome is still uncertain, when you still feel weak and incapable. In many instances, the waiting precedes the empowerment. No one likes to wait, but we do not wait in doubt or skepticism, wondering if He will really come through for us or not.

We wait as those who know He is trustworthy. We wait as those who know from past experience that He is a loving God who keeps His promises. The Lord does not seek to set us up for failure. He does not command us to do something He knows is impossible for us to achieve and then sit back and watch us struggle. Instead, He reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us our strength.

In what areas of your life do you need to take hold of courage?

Maybe you are walking through a difficult season that is filling you with fear and apprehension. Maybe you feel overwhelmed and wonder how God could bring good from your current circumstances. Maybe you feel the Lord leading you to take a step toward a calling or ministry He has placed on your heart. Maybe you’re just tired of living a complacent, comfortable life.

Whatever it is, choose today to take a step toward courage. Try something new. Dare to trust God’s sovereignty in your situation. Take hold of the courage He offers and trust it to be sufficient for your need. Then stand in confidence as you wait for His strength to be made perfect in your weakness.