A teenager discovers she is expecting a baby and chooses life over convenience. A young single mother leaves an abusive marriage and forges ahead to raise her two children in a peaceful home without threats and violence. A loving grandmother takes her grandaughter under her wing and shelters her from the loneliness of being a tween. What do all of these scenarious have in common you ask? Courage!
Some of us have it. Some of us don't. In a world that rejects the moral bounderies of absolute truth, courage is a rare commodity. Fearing the empty label of intolerance, all of humanity seems to shrink away from right and wrong. Hiding in our cowardice, we foolishly accept moral decline and decay. And, while some claim we have lost our moral compass, I strongly feel that it is more likely an issue of courage. It is a story as old as Cain and Abel. Both brothers knew what was right, but one chose obedience, the other murder. We are told that God reminded Abel, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7 NIV)
The same is true of us today. Obedience takes courage and many of choose the worldly road instead. It is not that we don't know what is right and what is wrong. Our Heavenly Father clearly leads us in righteousness. Rather, we prefer to stay hidden in sin, for we lack courage to stand out.
It shouldn't be so. For scripture pointedly says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NIV) God doesn't suggest we be courageous...He COMMANDS it! The world hasn't changed. It is still gripped by sin and will continue to be so until Christ returns. Yet, because of His sacrifice on the Cross, we are changed. With courage we can do the "God" things that truly revolutionize the world and bring glory to the Father.
Long ago, in the midst of exile, there was a woman, not so different from you or me, who initially lacked courage in a desperate and seemingly hopeless situation. Her name was Esther. Gripped by fear, she remained silent for a time while her people confronted threats of certain death. Her choices were grim. On the one hand Esther faced execution for being a Jew, on the other, execution for approaching the King without first being summoned. In all fairness, it seemed like a lose/lose proposition. But, we learn a lot from this bold girl who was also the unlikely Queen of the Persian empire. When in doubt, we must pray for courage. We are told that Esther told her cousin Mordecai...
"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:15-16 NIV)
Mustering her strength, Esther faced the uncertainties, victoriously saving both her people and herself. In short, she looked to God and courageously conquored fear. Each day, we encounter opportunities to display courage as well. We are courageous when we choose to reject humanistic ideals and instead embrace eternal truths in our homes and families. We show courage as we speak truth and love into the life of a friend who has stumbled blindly into sin and certain destruction. And we display courage as we boldly claim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a world bitterly consumed with hatred for our Savior.
Life is not for the faint of heart. Daily, we face an unseen enemy who seeks destruction in our lives. But we can be certain that darkness flees when we have courage and boldly follow God.