by: Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO
Wars and rumors of wars were not only predicted by Yeshua (Jesus) as a precursor to the end of the age but are evident in our world today. An increase in lawlessness and moral bankruptcy alarm even those of faith. Natural disasters claiming lives and property often threaten to overwhelm us with fear. We need courage in these days as never before.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word most often translated as courage is amatz (Aleph-mem-tsadi), and it means to be strong, alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold, solid, and hard. Several times, this word is used in relation to Joshua. Just before Moses died, he encouraged Joshua and the Children of Israel three times by saying, “Be strong and of good courage” (Deut. 31:6, 7, 23). It seems obvious to me that when the Children of Israel stood with Joshua on the banks of the Jordan River, they were assailed with fear. When God spoke to Joshua, twice He said, “Be strong and of good courage” (Josh. 1:6, 9) and then, “Be strong and very courageous,” (1:7). Again in Joshua 10:25, Joshua reminded the leaders that God had told them to be strong and courageous.
Having courage doesn’t mean that you have no fear. Rather, it means that in the face of fearsome reality, you stand up and face the obstacle. John Wayne, the American actor who played in many cowboy movies, once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” The American satirist Mark Twain defined courage by saying, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear —not absence of fear.” Hungarian journalist Arthur Koestler said, “Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.”
I remember joining a group of friends to go rappelling (abseiling) off the cliffs near Qumran in the Judean Desert. I was connected to the ropes, had all the proper equipment, and had watched several others safely descend the 85-meter (279-foot) cliff. As I stepped off the edge, my body leaning back into the ropes, one of the youngsters with the party asked me what the descent looked like. As I looked down, my friends at the bottom looked like ants. Suddenly fear gripped my heart, and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move up or down. Finally realizing that the only way out of this situation was to go down, I prayed and asked God to help me. With God’s help and courage in the face of fear, I successfully and safely reached my goal.
In Joshua’s case, God didn’t just tell him to buck up and get the job done. He encouraged Joshua, saying, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
Then as now, there was a need for courage because of very real threats. In biblical times, they faced giants and walled cities in their conquest of the Land. Today, we face huge challenges and problems, and often we don’t see a clear solution. We must be strong and courageous and remind ourselves that God is always with us. Yeshua encouraged His disciples with these words, “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 18:20b). Since we haven’t yet arrived at the end of the age, I personally find great encouragement in these words.
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