As I was preparing a word for you today, the word “courage” stuck out, so I decided to re-share this column I originally wrote in September 2014:
I know you get tired of me repeating Joshua 1:9, but this verse has been my mantra and constant source of strength since I was a teen.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This verse is so rich and full of promise and encouragement.
God urged Joshua “to be strong and courageous” three times in that first chapter.
The Lord was girding Joshua up for the great responsibilities before him, as the man was about to fill the humongous shoes left behind by Moses.
Joshua had been tasked to take the Jewish leader’s place and escort the Hebrews into the Promised Land. Talk about stress!
Being a supervisory position can make anyone pull his or her hair out, but imagine guiding an entire nation. Their entire existence depends on you. Every decision you make affects their well-being.
In Joshua’s case, his people were about to invade a country and claim it for their own. Mind you it was theirs fair and square but tell that to the folks about to lose their settlement. There was no doubt going to be resistance at every turn.
The Lord reminded Joshua “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.” (Joshua 1:5)
He then added: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
God had Joshua’s back. In fact, He basically said He wouldn’t fail to be there for Joshua.
“I will be with you wherever you go,” the Lord told him.
I find that pretty encouraging. But why shouldn’t it? Jesus is our Encourager.
Did you know that the word “encourage” means to “press courage into a person”? Thus the opposite of encourage is to discourage, or “suck courage out of a person.”
An encourager serves as an advocate. He or she “makes a call, is up close and personal, will send for, comfort, console, admonish, beseech.”
Encouragement (Greek: Paraklesis) gives us the will to carry on, glimpse the bigger picture, prevent burnout, save us from believing lies and/or experience abundant life.
Numerous Scriptures teach us to be encouragers like Christ, to help others continue the race no matter how hard it gets:
• Hebrews 3:13 – encourage daily
• Hebrews 10:23-24 – spur (provoke “paroxusmos”) one another
• 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – build each other up
Courage building is mentioned 21 times in the New Testament alone.
However, let’s return to Joshua’s story once more.
God repeatedly dared Joshua to be bold, to be brave. He was to keep his eyes on the end result — finally getting to settle in Canaan — regardless of what loomed along the way (i.e. enemies, food shortages, traitors).
Courage is doing what one is afraid to do. It is the capacity to resist fear and master it, the ability to encounter danger and difficulty with firmness and resolve in spite of fear.
I love this quote attributed to the late great John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
Are you ready to saddle up?