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COURAGE: Our Internal Resolve

By David Jeremiah

Many nations have awards for those who display extraordinary courage at critical moments. In the United States, the Medal of Honor is the highest military honor that can be awarded; and it’s presented by the President in the name of Congress to a handful of recipients whose courage has inspired the nation. The Medal of Honor has been awarded to 3,461 different persons, and each story is worthy of a biography for the courage, valor, and internal resolve displayed.

Courage—one of the highest attributes of strength—is universally admired. Many organizations sponsor annual awards for courage. There’s the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, usually given to athletes who have displayed courage. The John F. Kennedy Library presents Profile in Courage Awards to political leaders who have taken courageous stands. The Red Cross presents Acts of Courage Awards in communities around the world. Courage is recognized everywhere as one of the highest virtues—and those who display it are truly the world’s heroes.

The Joshua and Caleb Awards

If God were giving awards for courage in the Bible, high on the list would be Joshua and Caleb, who showed backbone levels of valor when they took their stand against the thousands of fainthearted Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers 14. Perhaps you know the story. Moses sent a dozen men—one from each of the tribes of Israel—to spy out the Promised Land. Ten spies came back with a demoralizing report: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we… All the people whom we saw in it are of great stature. There we saw the giants…” (Numbers 13:31-33).

This set the people to wailing, hand-wringing, and rebelling against Moses. Their faith collapsed despite the repeated miracles God had wrought for them. But Joshua and Caleb, more courageous than the rest, advised the people to trust God and possess the land He had promised. Though they failed to convince the rabble, they ended up being the only Israelites of their generation to enter the Promised Land; and we still remember their courage. They didn’t compare themselves to the giants; they compared the giants to God.

The roll call of Scripture is filled with souls like that—people of courage and conviction. Just read Hebrews 11 and ask yourself if, by God’s grace, your name could somehow be added to the roster of the courageous. We’re never certain of courage until we’re tested with a crisis. But we can prepare and do all within our power to develop a faith that trusts God amid the fears of life.

One of the best definitions of courage comes from the United States Marine Corps. Courage is one of their core values, and the Corps defines it as “the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines. It carries them through the challenges of combat and helps them overcome fear. It is the inner strength that enables a Marine to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct; and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.”

As believers, we need mental and moral strength to carry us through the challenges of life. The apostle Paul viewed the Christian experience as a combat zone (Ephesians 6:10-20); and we need the inner strength that enables us to overcome fear, do what is right, maintain a higher standard of conduct, and make godly decisions under stress and pressure. How do we develop such courage?

Study the Courage Passages of the Bible

We can store up courage by studying, learning, and meditating on the courage verses of the Bible. Think you can’t memorize Scripture? Learn this one phrase and you’ve instantly memorized seven different Bible verses: “Be of good courage” (Numbers 13:20; 2 Samuel 10:12; 1 Chronicles 19:13; Ezra 10:4; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 31:24; and Isaiah 41:6). We’re infused with courage when we study those verses and read the similar instructions given to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1, where we find recurring instructions like: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid… for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” As we study the “courage” verses of the Bible and the “fear nots” of Scripture, God will braid these texts into the fabric of our souls like wires of steel.

Study the Lives of Courageous Christians

It’s also good to study the lives of courageous Christians. As you plunge into a good biography, you’ll be inspired by the courage of God’s servants. As we study the courage of two thousand years of Christian heroes, we’re inspired to strengthen our resolve to serve the Lord, come what may.

Trust God to Give You Courage as the Need Arises

If, then, we stay close to the Lord and learn to trust Him for all our needs, we can be certain He will give us needed courage at needed times. There are moments in life when we’re tempted to give in to fear,  but God’s people know how to strengthen themselves in the Lord, knowing that with God all things are possible. As we believe, call on the Lord, and recite His promises, He gives us internal resolve to overcome our fears before they overcome us.

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This article was first published in Turning Points Magazine & Devotional.
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