Be strong and courageous! As I was reading to my daughters, one of them ask, “Daddy, what is courage?” Instantly images of bravery, heroism, intestinal fortitude, moxie, and valor come to mind. I wanted to define courage as an action assigned to a singular event.
I was going to answer courage is only for those few moments in life when your character is tested. Before I could answer, another question came to mind. Is courage also for the mundane decisions of daily life?
As the question lingered, we continued to read about the Israelite commander Joshua. He was giving encouragement to his people at the beginning of the book of Joshua. “Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9)
The Israelites were getting ready to start a new chapter in their lives by moving into the Promised Land. They had seen God provide miraculously for all their needs this point. So why were they scared of that next step? Simple answer, it was a new unknown experience. They had never walked this path before and those nerves of anxiety were starting to churn.
Notice that Joshua didn’t instruct them to just deal with it and move on. He gave them encouragement: be strong and courageous. Then gave a daily action plan. Observe your instructions from God. Don’t turn to the left or right. Teach these instructions down to your children. The result of the action plan is that you will be successful in this next chapter as God leads you wherever you go.
Courage is having the willingness to take a step in faith, even on the smallest of decisions. Courage is deciding to continue a treatment even though the prognosis looks bleak. Courage is continuing to teach your child how to do math homework even when you struggle with it too. Courage is deciding to pick up the phone and call a friend because of a strained relationship.
It is easy to assign courage to heroic events on the battlefield, but courage is for today and every day. The decisions we make every day are courageous decisions. It takes faith in God’s promise that He will be with us wherever we go to make courageous decisions.
Finally, I looked at my daughter and answered, “Courage is your reaction to the situations you face in life. The best part, God is the one that gives you courage.” She smiled and said, “I can do that!” Her childlike faith amazes and encourages me. Her reaction also reminds me that I too need to respond to life with courage. Today as you look at all you have to do, I encourage you to respond with courage.