My daughter is working on an essay about Courage. She asked me the other day to name someone I found to be courageous. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anyone, it was more that I can think of so many acts of courage that happen daily. To name one courageous person seems difficult in the light of so many who have given their lives in sacrifice for others or who face great odds to accomplish great things.
Honestly, I didn’t think too much more about the subject until this morning when I opened II Samuel chapter 4:1 “When Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his courage failed, and all the Israelites were troubled and dismayed.” Then dropping down to verse 4 “Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was a cripple in his feet. He was five years old when the news came out of Jezreel [of the deaths] of Saul and Jonathan. And the boy’s nurse took him up and fled; and in her haste, he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.”
Later in the chapter, we find Ish-bosheth napping (not exactly an act of heroism) and he is killed upon his bed. Poor Mephibosheth is crippled for the rest of his life because of one woman’s fear which proved to be completely unfounded in the end.
Fear causes us to do dumb things. It can cripple us if we allow it to. We fear what others think of us so we do nothing or we hide. We fear rejection so we don’t connect with others. We fear being hurt so we put up walls around our hearts. We fear failure so we keep our ambitions to a minimum. We’ve heard it said that the only thing we should fear is fear itself. Maybe there is an element of truth to that. When I read II Samuel 4, it is pretty clear to me that the results of fear or the lack of courage led to destruction and death.
So what is real courage? I think David gives us a pretty good example. In I Samuel 30, David and his men came home to find that their wives and children had been taken captive. David was “greatly distressed” (verse 6) “But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” Then he did the most courageous thing of all, rather than reacting blindly, verse 8 “David inquired of the Lord, saying, shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them? The Lord answered him, Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all. 9 “So David went…”
Over and over again, we find David in overwhelming circumstances with enemies coming after him and armies surrounding him. Each time we see the same words, “David inquired of the Lord” True courage is found in true faith. David strengthened himself in the Lord and knew that without the Lord, he could do nothing. In each situation he waited for the voice of God to speak into the circumstance and then he acted in obedience. Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Courage isn’t just the absence of fear. Courage is the knowledge that despite the circumstance, God has is under control and His plans are good.
Lord, let my first reaction to every situation be to inquire of you. Then give me the courage to do what you tell me to knowing that You are good and You will never leave me. I am completely secure in Your hands and completely able to accomplish whatever you set before me with You leading the way. Thank you that you choose to do great things through vessels of clay and dust. Thank you that you can be glorified in any circumstance when we are courageous enough to get out of your way and walk in obedience. I love being yours!