Courage Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Courage

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Courage is strength in the face of trouble.

In Scripture

Encouragement to be courageous "Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you" (Deut. 31:6). "I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9). "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" (Ps. 27:14). "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation" (Isa. 12:2). "I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!" (John 16:33). "Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58). "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:10 - 11). "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7).

Examples of courage "The Israelites took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day" (Judg. 20:22). "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4). "They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord" (Ps. 112:7). "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion" (Prov. 28:1). "I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, `Do not fear, I will help you'" (Isa. 41:13). "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom. 8:31). "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). "[T]hough we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition" (1 Thess. 2:2).

Points to Ponder

In Scripture, a believer's source of courage is so often the knowledge of God's firm and loving presence. "I am with you" is a bedrock promise. Veteran pastors often tell of an uncanny peace that falls over believers in the face of their death. They testify that they are not afraid to die, that they are in the arms of God, that they have never been surer of God's presence with them. God is their strength and salvation.

The same testimony has come from saints and martyrs who sang hymns while their enemies burned them at the stake, from Christian civil rights workers who persisted nonviolently in the face of taunts, spit, blows, and curses, and from persecuted Christians in many parts of the world today. They persist because they know God is with them and that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.

Courage is strength in the face of trouble, and, of course, the troubles requiring courage are myriad. Every day people must face into disease, injury, loss of loved ones, bullying, cheating, financial failure, and all the rest of human ills. Persisting through anxiety and depression requires major-league courage. Somehow God often gifts courage to the suffering, lamenting, fragile people of the world, and the gift is often remarkable enough to look like a miracle. Think, for example, of some of the victims of racial oppression in South Africa who in their testimony during hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission testified that they had forgiven the men who had horribly abused them. That in the face of the vilest treatment they were enabled to forgive looks for all the world like a God-almighty, Holy Ghost miracle.

Kathleen Norris speaks of courage in connection with conception and birth: "We are asked to make our most serious and intimate commitments with very little idea of how long they will last, or what will be required of us. The ordinary demands of a pregnancy, for example, require a woman to find the strength to give birth to a child who, even if it is healthy, will need daily nurturing for years, who will most likely devalue and rebel against that nurture in adolescence, and who will eventually leave home for schooling, work, and a marriage of her own. At the deepest level, a pregnant woman must find the courage to give birth to a creature who will one day die, as she herself must die. And there are no promises, other than the love of God, to tell us that this human round is anything but futile"

Tim O'Brien famously wrote about the courage American soldiers had to muster in Vietnam so as not to dishonor themselves: "They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing — these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture. They carried their reputations. . . . Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment."

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.