Joshua 1: 1-9
When I think of the word “courage,” for better or worse, the picture comes to mind of the Cowardly Lion in the film version of The Wizard of Oz, afraid of everything around him and wanting so much for the ability to face dangerous situations with great fortitude. But the words used in Scripture to describe the courage available to us as followers of Jesus Christ settle to a deeper plane than the poor Lion ever dreamed of.
The essence of the Old Testament concept of courage is showing ones’ self to be strong, alert, and energetic, both physically and mentally. As Joshua took command of the Israelites following Moses’ death, he was certainly in need of those qualities as the big job of leading the people into the Promised Land lay before him. God’s rich promise to him was that if he would remain faithful to God’s Word (Joshua 1:7-9) he could count on the presence and power of God to fulfill his assignment. And so the command to be “very courageous” (1:7) is cast against the background of unfettered trust in God.
In the New Testament, the words translated “courage” and “courageous” carry the concept of being of good cheer, filled with bold confidence. In Hebrews 13:6 the writer quotes Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” It is the Lord’s promise that He will always be with the writer (Hebrews 13:5) that prompts the confident assertion. Courage, for the believer, always springs from the simple recognition of God’s presence and power.
His presence means we are never alone or without a friend whatever our external situation may be. His power is unlimited- look at the creation (Psalm 19:1) and read of His mighty works in the Scriptures (Romans 15:4). Then think about times in the past when He made a way where, humanly speaking, there wasn’t one. In Jesus, all God’s promises are “yes” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
So be of good courage…our hope and optimism can be as big as the God who makes it possible!