One of my most treasured possessions is a signed copy of my favorite novel, The Traitor Prince. Inside the front cover, hand-scrawled by the author herself, is the phrase that sealed this story forever in my heart and soul: Fear out.Courage in.
Courage has been a theme in my life since a family trip to Colorado in 2017 when it became clear to me all at once how fear above all else had become my guide through life. And I was done with all that nonsense. Slowly but surely ever since, I have been unspooling the reel of courage wrapped tight within myself, stuffed away through pain and heartache and the subsequent unleashing of an anxiety disorder during my adolescence. Seizing hold of courage has allowed me to write the book(s) of my heart, travel solo, teach in front of a crowd, begin a small business, seek therapy, and step boldly into my calling from the Creator Himself.
Courage is not optional if we are going to walk the path God has called us to, because persecution is not optional, either. To withstand the latter, we must have the former. But human bravery often falters in the face of spiritual onslaught; even Jesus wept at what was to come for him in the torture and hanging on the Cross. We find our courage exactly where he found his—in the hope and promises and strength of God.
Ultimately we must choose what we will focus on: the fear of tomorrow or the God who holds it.
Choose God. Choose bravery. Choose the next step.
Exhale fear. Inhale courage.
What is Courage?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” A more widely-used definition is that courage is “the presence of fear, yet the willingness to carry on.”
Each of us will face things in this life that require courage if we’re going to endure them; it can be anything from a battlefield to a threatening situation to a necessary conversation/confrontation or a struggle with mental or physical illness, grief, etc. Courage is not demanded only of those facing physical harm, but also of anyone who stands to incur injury from a decision.
Jesus warned his followers that they’d face difficult times, persecution, scorn, and worse. It takes courage to face those things and not become jaded, hopeless, or led astray, so no wonder the Bible admonishes us over and over to have courage!
What Does the Bible Say About Courage?
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.– Deuteronomy 31:6
I have told you these things so that, in union with me, you have peace. In the world you will have hardships, but have courage; I have overcome the world.– John 16:33
Be watchful, stand fast in the faith, be courageous, be strong…– 1 Corinthians 16:13
How Can I Become More Courageous?
While anyone can fake bravery in times of crisis, true courage comes from having our feet planted in Truth. Understanding the power of our God, the importance of the spiritual battle, and the promises of the future enables us to not just plaster on a smile in difficult times, but to draw strength to stand and stay in the fight.
When we firmly grasp the magnitude of the love and promises of God, it broadens our perspective.
When we submit ourselves to Him, we put aside the need for false, showy bravery and accept Him as our strength.
When we lean on Him to guide our steps and hide His Word in our hearts, we can step boldly into difficult confrontations.
When we trust the future that is ensured through our salvation, the trials of this life consume less of us.
When we truly comprehend the magnitude of the love He has lavished on us and how precious we are in His sight, the opinions of others grow dim.
And when we fathom the enormity of His commission to us, the vastness of His grace, and that the very souls of people are at stake just as ours once were, it becomes more crucial and more personal than ever that we live with Christlike love and courage, no matter the cost.
Ultimately, it is by knowing God through and through, from past to present to future hope, that we learn to have courage that surpasses any challenge we face in this life.
What is one area of your life where you need more courage? Which of God’s promises will help you grow your courage and conquer this area?