I have a special gift for you today, Readers. Please welcome my writing colleague, Jon Stolpe as he shares his thoughts with us about courage. Welcome Jon!
When you think of courage, who or what comes to mind?
Maybe it’s the lion from The Wizard of Oz who fought through fear and insecurity until he discovered courage in the quest to conquer the Wicked Witch of the West.
Maybe it’s Maximus Decimus Meridius, the Roman general portrayed by Russel Crowe in Gladiator, who stood up to the Roman authorities and the competitors in the gladiator arena.
Maybe it’s Amelia Earhart who challenged the limitations and obstacles of flight and inequality to courageously go where no woman had dared to go.
When we think of courage it’s easy to think of the strong, the bold, and the heroic. We often assign courage to those in the limelight – sports stars, politicians, movie stars, rock stars, and other celebrities. It’s true that many of famous people have demonstrated courage in overcoming tremendous odds. I don’t mean to diminish their accomplishments, but I think we can find deeper meaning for courage if we look to those around us and to those outside the spotlight.
Courage is about facing your fears, taking leaps of faith, and standing up to life’s challenges. Framing courage with this definition brings others to mind. I think of my Grandma Miller who lived for years with a smile and a positive attitude despite the pain and suffering caused by a life of multiple sclerosis and multiple knee replacements. I think of Kinzey Lynch, a blind teammate on my daughter’s high school cross country team, who runs races and practices across uneven terrain with the help of a guide; he competes with a determination, a smile, and courage like few others I’ve seen. And I think of my wife who overcame illness and a challenging recovery from what seemed hopeless at the time. And now she’s a promoter of HOPE to others facing challenging circumstances.
I don’t know what you’re facing today. The pain you’re dealing with may seem insurmountable. The valley you are experiencing may appear deep and dark. You may be afraid. You may be intimidated. You may believe that leap of faith is way beyond the realm of possibility.
God is calling you to have courage.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 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 1:7-9
God’s direction to Joshua applies to us today. Here are three simple reminders to help you have courage:
Courage comes from knowing and obeying God's Word. Just as God instructed Joshua, we must read God's Word, study God's Word and obey God's Word. God's Word provides a foundation for courage for those who know and obey it.
Courage comes from remembering God is with you! "If God is for us, who can be against us." No matter what you are going through, God is there with you. (See Psalm 139:7-12)
Courage takes strength. I'm not talking about physical strength. Courage involves an inner strength that comes from God. God doesn't proclaim an easy road when He instructs Joshua, but he promises success that can only come from God. We will need strength, focus, and determination to overcome the fear and discouragement in our lives.
Who is in your “Courage” Hall of Fame? How has God’s Word given you courage? What are you going through today that requires courage?
Jon Stolpe is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports. Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or his blog.