COURAGE, n. -
The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Synonyms include: mettle, resolution, spirit, and tenacity. Courage is a firmness of mind and will in the face of opposition; a strength in the midst of pain or grief. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online)
In nearly every Bible verse concerning courage, we are not told that courage is an impartation or a special anointing. Instead, Christians are commanded to "take courage."
The question then becomes: From where? From whom? Where is courage “located,” that we might take hold of it?
There are times when friends encourage us, which is good. Yet there are also times when our only encouragement comes from the Lord.
WHERE DOES COURAGE COME FROM?
I hear the Lord admonishing His Body to “take courage” in these dark days. A command to take something implies, of course, that something has already been given!
Jesus gave me a vision recently which helped me see that courage is already available to believers. The vision came when I was navigating deep darkness myself.
His Inscriptions readers know that I’ve had several encounters over the years where I have been shown in visions, the conditions of both the Lord's heart and mine. (See this post, The White-Hot Passion of the Lord, for one of them.)
Years ago in an initial vision, He had shown me the blackness of a sin-infested heart, which terrified me. Then later, the reddish, soft heart of flesh that is spoken of in Ezekiel. On April 24, 2021, the Lord again removed my heart from my chest as I prayed, showing me what He saw.
This time, my heart appeared to be yellow in color. As the Lord held my heart in His hands, I heard the Spirit say that the color yellow represented, in this case, glory, light, and courage. I was reminded that the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and is taken by force (Matthew 11:12).
A picture is worth a thousand words! Before Jesus placed my heart back inside my chest three things became clear to me:
First, the Body of Christ is about to see the manifestation of the glory of God we have longed for.
Second, the light of Christ as found in His Word will illumine our paths and help us to “see” in this dark time.
Third, a courageous heart is the condition most needed right now to withstand the difficulties we face.
WHAT DOES COURAGE LOOK LIKE?
Anyone living in today’s trial-infested world knows that outside of the Lord, courage is in short supply. Most people are far more prone to be overtaken by fear than by strength or courage!
Never in the world’s history has there been such a demonic onslaught of fear, sickness, corruption, and outright evil in every sector and every nation. The fact that biblical prophets like Daniel and John foresaw these things does not make enduring them any easier!
I meditate often on the book of Joshua, and I marvel at how frequently the Lord tells Joshua: “Be strong and take courage!”
Joshua appears to be the picture of courage. It is easy to see Moses's successor as a mighty warrior in his own strength, given the battles he won, but I believe the opposite is true. It is the way of the Lord to encourage us the most when we feel fearful, vulnerable, and weak.
I believe that in the wake of Moses’ death, while facing the greatest “giants” known to Israel at that time, Joshua probably felt a good deal more fear than faith!
The remedy for Joshua as he began to occupy the Promised Land was not a special anointing, a “fresh impartation,” or even an angelic visitation from the Lord. (The angelic "Captain of the Lord of Hosts" did not show up with his drawn sword until weeks later, at Jericho.)
No; the remedy for Joshua's fear was a command from the Lord to take courage in the fact that God was with him. God's already-revealed promises would both strengthen and sustain him.
Joshua was required to take an active role in his own deliverance first before he could lead others to victory. He had to “locate” courage using what He knew of God’s character and goodness. He had to act on what he believed.
In the same way, our entry into God’s Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy is not passive; it is a resolute and forceful advancement into the things of God!
2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” We must take the first step of renouncing fear and confessing faith in God’s power and all-sufficiency. God will then honor our courage by giving us an iron-clad ability to persevere against all odds.
New Testament believers in Christ possess something even greater than what Joshua knew. The Spirit of a courageous and mighty Warrior, the Lord of Hosts Himself, lives within us! Jesus is the perfect embodiment of courage.
The source of our courage as Christians is the Living Word: a Savior who has experienced every condition of the heart imaginable! We “take courage” by confessing our faith in that eternal truth.
God is with us; He will never abandon or forsake us. His Word is life and strength to our minds, our emotions, and our bodies. Our ability to continue faithfully in trials is directly related to our ability to draw upon the courage in Christ’s blood that now releases strength into our hearts.
Psalm 31:24 “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Daniel 10:19 “And he said, ‘O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.’ And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’”
Matthew 14:27 “But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.’"
WHAT IS COURAGE FOR?
Courage is not only given for defense or survival, or to be the “last man standing” in a world full of war and injustice. It is given to advance the Kingdom of God.
It takes courage to deal with sinful areas in our lives.
We are called to be a holy people, set apart for a holy God.
It takes courage to face pain.
Whether pain in the body or pain in the soul, we must have the courage to forgive and to press in for healing.
I believe the Lord is reminding us to have hearts of courage right now, so that we can confront not only what needs to be dealt with in ourselves, but also in others.
The oil of unity will flow again when we come to understand the impact our own lives have - either the sin of them or the fruit of them - on other members of Christ’s Body, and make necessary adjustments.
“Not even a hint” of immorality or greed is to be seen among us. (Ephesians 5:3) Not even a quick glance or a lustful thought towards sin’s trappings is to be tolerated! Why? Because a little leaven affects the whole lump. A weak, sick, and powerless Church is one that has not used courage to confront the things of the flesh that stand in direct opposition to God.
It takes courage to draw near to a God who is a Consuming Fire. Yet it is far better to gather the bundles of tares in our own arms and bring them to the fire ourselves! Those who do will lose the chaff and save their harvests.
It takes courage to share the Gospel. Believers should never be ashamed to share the hope that is within us. Despite the persecution, it is needed by millions of others, now more than ever.
It takes courage to stand up for what is right. I believe the Lord wants to encourage some of us who may feel uncomfortable with the sins we perceive in ourselves or in the spheres of influence we’re called to reach. True believers will take courage by force and fight vocally and tirelessly for love, justice, freedom, truth, healing, and deliverance.
The battle isn’t over; we have a long way to go. I pray you will be encouraged as you study God’s Word. I pray you’ll actively reach out to someone you know who is struggling in this season and stand with them in the darkness.
I pray we’ll arise as a passionately violent army of believers who make Kingdom glory, light, and courage more contagious than any fears!
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com. "We win" quotation courtesy of Richard Borst.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.