Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God’s Presence brings Courage to our hearts
I read a wonderful description of spiritual courage as being “fear that has said its prayers”. It is a quote by Dorothy Bernard that points our hearts to the truth that we need to turn to God for in complete reliance in times of challenge, struggle and fear. Prayer is the key to overcoming and we rely on His strength, not our own. The words “be not afraid” appear in Scripture 366 times.
The Greek word translated “courage” and “good cheer” means literally “boldness and confidence.” In the Bible, courage is the opposite of fear. When God commands us to fear not, to be of good cheer, and to have courage, He is commanding against fear, which is the opposite of courage.
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD is the One Who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
And Courage Comes by Faith
This commentary on Acts 4:13 is by Charles Kingsley, Chester Cathedral 1871
Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…“
Now I think that the quality — the grace of God — which St Peter’s character and story especially force on our notice, is, the true courage which comes by faith. I say, the courage which comes by faith.
There is a courage which does not come by faith. There is brute courage, which comes from hardness of heart, from stupidity, obstinacy, or anger, which does not see danger, or does not feel pain. That is the courage of the brute. One does not blame it, or call it wrong. It is good in its place, as all natural things are, which God has made.
It is good enough for the brutes, but it is not good enough for man. You cannot trust it in man. And the more a man is what a man should be, the less he can trust it. The more mind and understanding a man has, so as to be able to foresee danger, and measure it, the more chance there is of his brute courage giving way.
The more feeling a man has, the more keenly he feels pain of body, or pain of mind, such as shame, loneliness, the dislike, ridicule, and contempt of his fellow men; in a word, the more of a man he is, and the less of a mere brute, the more chance there is of his brute courage breaking down, just when he wants it most to keep him up, by leaving him to play the coward and come to shame.
Yes. To go through with a difficult and dangerous undertaking, a man wants more than brute courage. He wants spiritual courage — the courage which comes by faith. He needs to have faith in what he is doing; to be certain that he is doing his duty, to be certain that he is in the right. Certain that right will conquer, certain that God will make it conquer, by him or by some one else; certain that he will either conquer honourably, or fail honourably, for God is with him. In a word, to have true courage, man needs faith in God.
Courage at a Cost
Proverbs 4:7 “Though it cost all you have, get understanding.“
Henry Nouwen said that Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.
Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.
Luther indicated that spiritual courage is a powerful indicator of the depth of our ability to be servants as bearers of God’s truth. It is easy to be steady during peace or when we have no personal effects that are at stake but when warfare begins- on God’s battlefield, it is a powerful faith and loyalty to God that equips one with courage.
John Piper says that “Christian courage is the willingness to say and do the right thing regardless of the earthly cost because God promises to help you and save you on account of Christ. An act takes courage if it will likely be painful. The pain may be physical, as in war and rescue operations. Or the pain may be may be as in confrontation and controversy”
And So We Pray In Faith
The Almighty God controls all things. It has been said that when we reach “the end of ourselves, we become closest to God”. (C.S. Lewis in the problem of pain) “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
E.M. Bounds said that “Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage that never fails.”
So dear friends, if any of you are minded to be good men and women, pray for the Holy Spirit of God. First for the spirit of love to give you good desires; then the spirit of faith, to make you believe deeply in the living God, and then for the spirit of strength, to enable you to bring these desires to good effect.
Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Quotes on Courage from Charles Spurgeon
“Be of good courage. There are few storms, after all, that are ahead, to those that have passed through many already. The further we are on the road, the less there is of it to bear”
“If you know the law of mental storms you may reach peace, and that law may be summed up in one line: Steer to God right away; fly to him, and you will find a peaceful shelter”
“Wait a little longer. Ah, beloved! How despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven, they will seem to us just nothing at all….Let us go on, therefore; and if the night be ever so dark, remember there is not a night that shall not have a morning; and that morning is to come by-and-by”
“There are storms of this life still to be met, so get behind Christ by following him in the path of duty. If you never go anywhere but where Christ leads the way, you need not be afraid of storms, for they will beat upon him more than upon you. When I was quite a young man, I was greatly reviled for preaching the gospel; and, sometimes, my heart would sink a little under the cruel slanders that many uttered; but I used to often go upstairs to my room, and after a season of sweet fellowship with my Lord, I would come down singing”
“It little matters, you know, whether a man has no burden and no strength, or a heavy burden and great strength. Probably of the two, if it were put to the most of us, we should prefer to have the burden and the strength. I know I should. Now, there is generally this for you, that if you have little trouble, you will have little faith; but if you have great faith, you must expect to have great trouble. A manly spirit would choose to take the trouble, and take the faith too”
“Come then, ye tremblers, ye doubters, ye little ones, ye that think ye cannot have a part in the promise, come now, come nestle down under those great wings which seem so close to you. The wings that are lined with the feathers of the Eternal will be strong wings, as though they were bars of iron, through which no storms of trouble can ever beat; through which the enemy, though he come from hell itself, shall not be able to drive his darts”