22 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Courage – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
Courage is the ability to step into difficult waters despite the fear that might be crashing down upon you. I initially was going to call this characteristic bravery, just because courage is often talked about in Scripture, but I had rarely seen references to bravery. I thought the words were synonymous. I have found out there is a slight difference. Bravery acts without a sense of fear, and need not have a cause; it is a means and an end in itself. Courage acts despite fear and is a means to an end or some cause. We are called to courage. The promise of God quoted above, is the first of five calls to Joshua to take courage. Joshua is being asked to step into the shoes of Moses, not completely void of fear, but with the understanding of the risks inherent in leading a nation into enemy territory to fulfill the greatest cause of his era, that of being finally able to take possession of what God had long promised.
Jesus showed courage throughout his life. The first sign of courage is shown in the incarnation, God taking on the frightening limitation of humanity. Christ consistently shows courage as he confronts people in the temple. It was courage he demonstrated on the night he was betrayed when, after enjoying dinner with good friends, he heads out into the darkness. Darkness is scary at the best of times, but even more so if you just granted permission to a close confidante to betray you. Moments before stepping into the black of night, Jesus sent Judas on his way to arrange the treacherous act. You can sense the turmoil in Jesus’ heart as he prays and waits for Judas and the guards to show up. He knows danger is coming. Allow yourself to think of just how dark it was that night, no light pollution like we have now. It was very dark, but slowly fire torches coming would break the blackness of the night; he would hear voices as they came closer and closer. For most of us there would be the temptation to flee, to slide into the shadows of the trees. But he didn’t. He stood courageous. Despite the fear, there was a cause to be championed, our redemption.
Very few of us will live our lives in a crisis when we might do some heroic act deserving of a Military Cross. And yet, like Joshua, we are called to be courageous because we too live for a cause, the cause of Christ, because of Christ. What do we fear? For many of us our worst-case scenario is being ridiculed, overlooked for a promotion or maybe censured for witnessing. That is scary. And yet, to be courageous in the face of those fears requires we push through them and say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, be who we need to be, all for the cause of Christ. Remember, this is not finding courage in our self; it is finding courage in the God who is with us.