When You Don't Feel Brave, Choose to Have Courage
I’m sure you’re like me, dealing with some very tough, never-did-you-think decisions and feelings lately. I realize we all live in tumultuous times wondering what the future holds.
I’m preparing to make a tricky decision for my daughter’s next school year. I am wondering what my calling will look like this fall, and I’m praying for a friend to get a job after a layoff. I have loved ones dealing with depression. I know friends living in cities that are locked down or are burning with protest. I’m concerned for families with compromised immune systems, and for my own family not to get the virus. I have friends who experience racism because of the color of their skin, who are afraid for their children in ways I can’t imagine. I can quickly be overwhelmed by the news and the upcoming election. Sometimes I feel anxious about doing normal activities like going to the grocery store and gathering with friends I miss.
I sense the Holy Spirit reminding me that worry and fear are nothing new. But in these trying times while living everyday life, I must make a choice — I must choose to live courageously.
Doing so can be difficult, and it won’t always come naturally or look the same for everyone. But as Joshua 1:9 says, we must each decide to be strong and courageous because the Lord is with us wherever we go.
Being courageous means to choose it, to live it on purpose, to want it more than what we feel or think. But it’s impossible to be brave without God. Just like forgiving others is first a choice, we must decide to trust God to make us courageous. Then, our feelings and our actions will sync up at some point with that commitment.
Courage is defined as “strength in the midst of pain or grief.” It is needed in small tasks others may never see, or in doing the next thing we are called to do that might be big and visible to many. When life gets frustrating because it’s not what we expected, when we are hit with one thing after another, when we don’t know if we have enough wisdom or strength to make the right decisions for today, much less plan effectively for tomorrow, we need to choose to be courageous.
God doesn’t tell us to be strong and courageous today to make tomorrow easier. He tells us to do so because He knows we will need it in our lives. But courage doesn’t come from mustering up something inside of us; it comes from His promise to be with us wherever we go, whatever comes our way, no matter how we feel or what others might do.
When God shared those words with Joshua for the first time, it was the beginning of a new normal too. There was a change in leadership and a new generation rising up to follow God. They faced a very real enemy and were on the verge of seeing God come through on His long awaited promises.
God instructed Joshua to have courage, not just for himself but also for those he was leading. Similarly, God empowers others in the Bible to be strong and courageous so they can lead well too:
Deborah led her people as a judge while her top military official wasn’t brave enough to do anything without her. She was confident God would protect her and give her courage so others could fight the enemy alongside her.
Esther didn’t have all the answers she needed and felt powerless in her position as queen. But with God’s courage, Esther became willing to risk her life to spare her people.
Hannah was barren, but she was brave enough to ask for what her heart really longed for. And when she received her son Samuel, she was courageously willing to offer him back to God.
Ruth was widowed and without a homeland to go back to. But she chose to be brave and follow her mother-in-law to a new land and start over. She trusted God would provide blessing and favor beyond what she could have hoped for.
Mary was young, but she had faith that God could do the impossible. Because of her courageous faith, she birthed the Messiah of the world.
All of these biblical examples are people like you and me who chose to have courage in both the big and small moments. They lived with the expectation that God would come through, and their courage impacted generations after them.
Being courageous is an act of faith. When we choose to believe and trust in God, He makes us courageous as we obey His Word.
So, let’s trust God with our strange today and our unknown tomorrows. Let’s choose to be courageous and be expectant that God will keep His promises in the big and small moments. Let’s remember we can do anything, even when we don’t feel like it or see a way through, because God is always with us.