The word courage means the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; bravery. Another definition for courage: having the courage of one's convictions to act in accordance with ones beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.
When we are courageous we may suffer. But, being courageous takes bravery. Courage is one of man's needs, since fear is one of his worst enemies. Courage is a trait of strong character. Moral courage allows men to have the power to stand against all forms of persecution. Some forms of persecution are ridicule and criticism.
The message that God gave to Joshua was "Be of good courage." In Joshua 1:9 we can read "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go."
Some of the cares in our lives may have become familiar to us, and our bearing them became somewhat natural. That is not to say the cares have become lighter, but we have become stronger. Certain trials can break some people and strengthen other people. Sometimes it takes adversity for us to realize our blessings.
How wonderful it is when someone stands up for his or her convictions. This could be at school, an activity, a family gathering or a group of friends getting together. Granted, being courageous is not easy. It takes gumption. But stop and think of the difference it can make. Total atmospheres at gatherings have changed because of someone acting courageously.
When someone knows what needs to be done in a circumstance and they do it, they are making an impression on someone even if they are unaware of it. Things at the event they are currently involved with may not change, but the courage that was shown is noticed. This could be a stand for the language they feel should be used, or it could be a stand for the topic being discussed. Years ago this was told in a class - "Ask yourself, is this something that I would want to be involved with when the Lord comes?" We need to rethink something if we are unsure about being involved. Stop and think of the times you know of where courage has been shown.
Times when we have been or seen others being courageous often stand out in our memory. Some people may be upset and begin to whisper. But, who are we trying to really impress? Knowing that we have stood up courageously, should make all the difference in the world. The more we stand up, the firmer our convictions will be. The happier we will eventually be.
Too many Christians are unsuccessful in living a steadfast life for God. The word steadfast means immovable, constant, or enduring. They are afraid of being belittled, of humiliation, being a laughingstock, and maltreatment. They are hiding the fact they are Christians, wanting to be secretive servants for Christ.
When I think of courageous women in the Bible, and there are so many, I instantly think of Esther . Here is a list of verses where we read of Esther's courage in going to the king to save her people. Esther 4:8; Esther 4:16; Esther 5,6, &7.
Esther was an orphaned Jewish girl who was raised by her uncle, Mordecai. The queen was disposed by the king because she did not obey his commandment . He searched for another queen, and he saw Esther who was attractive. The King Ahasuerus chose Esther, the adopted daughter of a minor court official named Mordecai, as his new queen.
There was a high official by the name of Haman who was angry with Mordecai because he felt overlooked because of him. Because of Haman's revengeful ways, he not only wanted Mordecai executed, but he wanted his whole race eliminated. The King had been warned by Mordecai of a plot on his life, but Mordecai's reward had been overlooked. Mordecai had coerced Esther to speak to the king about her race. She was afraid, knowing of the king's anger, yet she asked the king and Haman to a dinner. At dinner, Esther accused Haman of his evil plot against her people.
The king had Haman hung upon the gallows that Haman had built for a hanging of Mordecai. Instead of Mordecai being hung there, Haman was. The king gave a decree that allowed the Jews the right to organize, and to kill those who planned to kill them, thereby defending themselves.
Our indebtedness for God's auspicious care is the most outstanding gift of the book of Esther.
God's power is not limited, and He is in total control. His benevolence is seen in Esther's courageous life. Without her fearlessness, her story would be different. The events in our life are in God's hands. God who is so concerned for us is able to change our pain into joy if we are fully dependent upon Him.
The Lord uses us as we are. The time may come when we need to perform a role other than the one we have become accustomed to doing, but should this occur, we will be given the Lord's grace to continue to live for him.
In the Old Testament, we read the story of a woman named Ruth. Ruth was a Moabitess who worshipped the Lord our God. She was a widow whose mother-in-law was Naomi, whose husband had also died. Rather than leave with her sister-in-law, Orpah, she chose to go with Naomi, her mother-in-law. In Ruth 1:16-17 we read "Where you go, I will go...".
Ruth had to glean wheat from the fields. The poor were allowed to glean in the fields after the harvest. Ruth cared for her mother-in-law as if she were her mother. Ruth showed courage to leave her homeland and go with Naomi to a foreign land. She was gleaning wheat that fell on land owned by a man named Boaz. He saw her and married her. She and Boaz had a son.
Think of the courage it would take to leave your homeland and go to a foreign land. Ruth had told Naomi that her God would be her God. That would take a courageous person.
Other Biblical examples of courage are: Abraham, Gideon, Ezra, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Peter, John, David, Nehamiah, Jesus' disciples and the apostles, Paul, Jonathan, Elijah, and Jesus Christ.
Here is a list of ways courage is applied in our everyday life.
(1) We respond boldly to surrounding events.
(2)We back down for the sake of others.
( 3) We take advantage of opportunities.
Courage comes from belief and all believers can have it.
In Exodus 1: 15-22 we are told of how courageous people risk their lives and their respectability. The Hebrew midwives saved the male children even though Pharaoh had ordered them killed.
Courageous people are bold in representing Christ.
" And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31 NKJV)
Boldness is not reckless impulsiveness. Boldness requires courage to press through our fears and do what we know is right.
Like the disciples, we need to pray with others for that courage. To gain boldness, you can (1) pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to give you courage, (2) look for opportunities in your family and neighborhood to talk about Christ, (3) realize that rejection, social discomfort, and embarrassment are not persecution, (4) start where you are by being bolder in small ways.
The disciples were told by Christ to have courage. This courage was to be present as they faced struggles.
It is reassuring to know that Christ will never leave us when we have hardships. As we keep in mind how the supreme dominion has already been won, we will have peace in our most burdensome moments.
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you; and will say, 'Destroy! Deut. 33:27(NKJV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Psalm 46:1-2(NKJV)
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. I Corinthians 16:13(NKJV)
Courage grows as we trust God. Moses' song declares that God is our refuge, our only true security.
David in the Psalms sings out that God is our refuge in a time of trouble. He is always there for us in troubled times.
Here are some thoughts on courage I thought were applicable. There are so many, but these stood out in my mind.
One man with courage is a majority.
Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.
George S. Patton
Discussion and study questions:
(1) What do courageous people do?
(2) How many times in your life when someone stood up for their beliefs- a difference was made?
(3) What events in your life show God's providential care?
(4) What is one encouraging thing you see in Esther's story that can be applied to your own life?
(5) How can we gain courage?
(6) How can we be bold for Christ?
This is a collection of stories of ancient and modern women who can only be called heroes. These forty vignettes will inspire the reader as Denise Marie Siino delves into each woman's life to uncover the depths of her valor-chosen because of her dedication to serving the heart-concners of God and the needs of people-many times in the face of adversity or opposition but always with great courage and determination. Including in this collection are Condoleeza Rice, Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Kay Arthur, Dayna Curry Masterson and Heather Mercer, Edith Schaeffer, Elisabeth Elliot and more.