Read Joshua 1:6-9
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NLT)
Touring the Australian War Memorial Victoria Cross Gallery can bring tears to my eyes. So many examples of courage by apparently ordinary people. And yet courage is not confined to war. It can take courage to care for a disabled family member or to attend school where you feel isolated and alone.
And courage is not the absence of fear. Courage and fear are inseparable. Courage does not deny fear but chooses not to let that fear shape our life response. Courage involves the wise summonsing of resources to deal with the fear. We become courageous not by stopping being afraid but by not letting those fears dominate us.
For Christians, our ultimate source of courage is our trust that God is with us. This is what is behind the repeated exhortations Joshua gave the people as they entered the Promised Land. Not that there was no danger, not that there was some superhuman absence of fear. Rather that God was with them.
Courage does not spring from a brash temperament. We have no need to try to feel brave. We rather trust that it is God’s resources that will see us through and not our own. Courage acknowledges the reality of fear and danger, but also recognises the greater reality of the power and love of God.