After the death of Moses, God commissioned Joshua to guide the Israelites into the Promised Land where they would face many challenges. God said to Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:9). In that verse, we have the key to being courageous; it is knowing that “God is with you wherever you go” and in whatever you face. With God behind you (and with you, and going before you) you can face whatever is ahead of you. Eddie Rickenbacker said, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared!”
It takes courage to stand up for what is right, for what you believe, especially in a culture that is headed in the opposite direction from where you are going, as is the case in our own nation today. It would be much easier—in a sense—to let things run their course, to just remain silent, to go with the flow. But, those who are not willing to bleed and die for what they hold dear will always be held hostage by those who are.
Last week in his e-mail devotional, Richard Evans (REvans75@satx.rr.com) wrote (and I quote with his permission): “We have opportunities every day to demonstrate courage, to stand up for what is right in this world, to speak out loudly and clearly for the dignity of our fellow man, and to be prepared for the consequences of our actions. All too often we have opportunities to tell those we encounter every day of the message of Jesus Christ, a message of love and service, a message of victory through sacrifice and having the courage to do what is right regardless of the cost. In most cases the worst consequences we face may lead to a loss of prestige, loss of status, or money, or loss of relationship. There are many of our fellow Americans and citizens of other nations who face greater consequences and show far greater courage than most of us have been called to show.”
Last Monday we celebrated Memorial Day. “We salute the men and women who have protected this nation, who have had the courage to stand tall even in the face of danger. They have served the cause of freedom. Many have put their lives on the line facing the very real possibility of death, in an effort to defend this nation, her principles, her people, and our way of life against those who threaten us. In the early years of our country we relied on the protection of the oceans and the difficulty of foreign powers to bring danger home to our own shores. Recent years have seen our world shrink even smaller and we have been forced to realize that we cannot be an island of isolation safely hiding from the aggression and hatred of those in some distant land. Just as a small amount of poison can pollute the air and the waters, the evil and destructive nature of a small and isolated band can lead to the destruction of a nation and the demoralization and degradation of her people.”
We salute the men and women in the military of the United States here at home and across the globe who work to insure the safety of their fellow soldiers, of the American people, and of all freedom-loving people around the world. We salute them for sacrificing their own time, their comforts, and too often their lives to make this a better world for the rest of us. “They demonstrate the true meaning of courage. They show their devotion to the Christian principles upon which this nation was founded. They do it every day, not just in idle words of support, but in their actions, their devoted service and disciplined sacrifice for a grateful nation.”
“Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the courage You have given to our military men and women. We are awed by the many examples we have seen that most are acting in a manner that brings honor and dignity to them, to the military, to our nation, and to the people whose lives thay are seeking to better. Father, protect them from harm, continue to give them the courage to serve Your principles, and help them make the world a little better for all Your children. Help those of us who enjoy the safety and security they are striving to protect do all within our power to show them our love, our support, and our undying gratitude. AMEN!”
Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” The Apostle Paul gives an illustration of that in his letter to the Philippians. He, of course wrote the letter from a Roman prison, where he was chained to a guard 24-7, but as a result had lots of opportunities, rather than griping and bemoaning his situation, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wrote: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Phil. 1:12-14).
Life is hard. Courage is essential! Getting up in the morning is not for the faint of heart! So, my brothers and sisters, “Be strong and courageous…for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).