Do you ever ask God for courage, or do you think it's a quality you should be able to muster up on your own?
There is a way to get this attribute sooner, but it's not an easy way. It requires trusting in God.
That's hard. By nature, we all have a streak of independence and rebellion. We want to be our own boss. We don't like to owe anyone, and we don't like to take orders.
Besides, trusting God is risky, isn't it?
If you really pay attention to the so-called heroes of the Bible, you'll find every one of them had doubts. There was Moses, who asked God to use somebody else instead of him; Gideon, who tossed out a couple fleeces to test God; David, who wrote a bunch of psalms questioning God's care; and John the Baptizer, who asked from prison whether Jesus was truly the Messiah.
They were as flawed as we are. They got their courage from God, not their own hearts. Occasionally, we read of Bible saints who trusted God, and things got even worse. How about Joseph in the Old Testament, who went from one scrape to another, until God decided Joseph was ready to be exalted?
When we ask God for courage, will things get worse? Sometimes. I don't like to keep bringing up the two instances when I had cancer, but the reality was that God didn't take the cancer away. Instead, he gave me the strength of will I needed to do what I had to.
Thanks to movies and TV shows, we have a warped view of what courage really is. Courage isn't always beating an army of bad guys, like in some far-fetched action movie.
True courage is being scared yet forging ahead with what needs to be done, trusting God for his support.
Most disabled people have more courage than the toughest Marine. They fight the battle on a daily basis, all their life. Their quiet perseverance doesn't win them any medals, but it will get them incredible rewards in heaven.
I like the New Living Translation's version of 2 Timothy 1:7:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
If God hasn't given us a spirit of fear, where does it come from? How about Satan? He's largely dismissed today as an influence, but Jesus said Satan is real, so that's good enough for me. Satan likes nothing better than a bunch of Christians too scared to live the Life and spread the gospel.
Although the world may look as if Satan is calling the shots, let's not forget that God is sovereign. God is in charge. That means when we ask God for courage, he will supply it.
Sometimes, even after I go to God for an infusion of spunk, I don't feel any different. But I rarely rely on my feelings when it comes to God, because feelings are not reliable. God's Word is.
After God had miraculously brought the Israelites out of Egypt and had winnowed out the unfaithful in the desert, another monumental task remained: conquering the Promised Land.
God knew how impossible the upcoming battles looked from a human perspective. He said to Moses' successor, Joshua:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NIV)
Read that carefully. It's a principle we can all stand on when we ask God for courage. First, notice that God commands us to be strong and courageous. God never gives us an assignment without giving us the power to accomplish it.
Second, besides telling us what to do, God also tells us what not to do: We are not to be afraid or discouraged. We are not to be deterred by appearances or feelings.
Third, God gives us the reason we can be strong and courageous: For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Sometimes when I ask God for courage, I'm very specific in what I need from him. But most of the time my prayer is short and from the heart: "Jesus, help me." This is one of the prayers I pray the most, usually several times a day.
I believe that's the prayer God wants to answer. Yes, things may not turn out like I expected or wanted, but I learned long ago that giving God orders doesn't work. Trusting God means relying on him not just for courage but for the nature of the outcome too, whether I agree with it or not.
As you and I walk the narrow way that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, we will travel into spiritual valleys and up onto mountaintops. Looking behind is valuable when it helps us remember how God did give us the tenacity to stay on the path and keep moving forward, even though at times we were scared out of our wits.
The Christian life was never meant to be lived on our own. We call God Father because he provides for us with unconditional love. This world is getting scarier by the day, but when we ask God for courage, we can know that prayer will be answered.
As a single, I know about holding onto hurts. I replayed some of mine for years.
But gradually God showed me I wasn't doing myself any favors. In fact, I was holding myself back because I was scared to move on.
If that sounds familiar, I believe you'll benefit from my paperback book, Hope for Hurting Singles.
I wrote it from 50 years' experience in the single life. You'll learn how to avoid the painful mistakes I made, but I think you'll also appreciate the lessons I learned. Why go through the same troubles yourself when you can learn from my stumbles?
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