Aesop said, “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” When we are not facing the lion face to face, it is easy to say what we would do. Our bravery is sometimes measured by how far away we are from the threat. The farther we are, the braver we become. Our talk may become louder and full of heroic deeds – until we really face the danger.
Courage is defined as “That quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and difficulties with firmness; valor; a human quality which keeps one going in the face of opposition or danger.” I like the word “valor” – it has a crystal ring to it. Valor is the medal given for those who have shown their courage under heavy opposition and difficulty. We honor such heroes because they were willing to face the danger for us – face to face.
Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul had just mentioned his own “doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions … what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me” (vv10,11). The Lord was able to deliver Paul from all those persecutions. Courage brought Paul to the feet of the Lord to seek his blessing and help in these times. Paul was willing to face these trials face to face knowing that he could do “all things in Christ.”
It takes courage to live the life of a Christian. Courage is the mettle that suggests an innate capacity for meeting those persecutions with the resolve to win the victory. C. S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” The strength of tea is found only when it is in hot water. Our faith is found when we have to endure the troubles of life. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:1-6).
We need tribulations to make us strong. Courage is what brings us through. Courage is the force that brings us face to face with the lion – feeling the breath of his anger – smelling the foul odor of his existence – feeling the force of his power all around us – and yet say to him, “Satan, I reject you!” “Resist the devil, and he will FLEE from you” (James 4:7). Our troubles will bring about patience. Facing the trials of life with courage will help establish hope. The source of our courage is found in the Spirit. We are able to continue in the face of hardship because Jesus did not die for us because we had courage, but rather we were without strength and needed courage. Only He can give us the victory!
The Japanese have a proverb that says, “Unless you enter the tiger’s den, you cannot take the cubs.” Courage is the spirit that takes us to the very den of Satan and defeats him. Daniel had the courage to face the den of lions (Daniel 6), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had the courage to face the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), courage fills the pages of Hebrews 11 and the faithful of God. “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
Andrew Jackson said, “One man with courage makes a majority.” Stand firm in your faith before God and Satan will fall. It will take much courage to bear the battle cry of the forces of wickedness but stand we must with courage in our hearts. The victory is ours.