What does courage look like?

For most people, we probably think of bravery in the face of danger. The underdog facing overwhelming odds, badly outnumbered and only one bullet left. We think of…

  • Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader
  • The Avengers versus Thanos
  • David versus Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
  • Jesus versus the cross (Luke 22.39-46)

These are all legitimate examples of that kind of courage or bravery. But there’s another kind of courage that relates more to the rest of us. It’s the kind described by Mary Anne Radmacher when she said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” 

Every day we need courage:

  • Courage to do the right thing
  • Courage to speak up for what’s right
  • Courage to help the needy, the outcast, and the oppressed
  • Courage to take the lead when everyone else goes into hiding
  • Courage to correct others when their mistakes threaten everyone
  • Courage to teach
  • Courage to make a difference

The words “courage” and “courageous” occur about 50 times in the Bible. In 16 places, we’re told, “be strong and courageous.” In 11 places, we’re told, “do not fear… be courageous.” In 3 places, we’re told, “be courageous and act.” So, biblical courage is the opposite of fear, it’s synonymous with strength, and it’s ultimately an action (not an emotion or feeling). 

One text stands out to me. In the days of King David, his general Joab was fighting against the Ammonites, and told his troops, “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight” (2 Samuel 10.12).

Ultimately, courage means doing the right thing, and trusting God to take care of the results.

When we live courageously, we probably won’t get much recognition. Most of us won’t get movie contracts or news coverage. Most of us won’t have statues made in our honor or be written about in history books. Sometimes we won’t even be thanked by those we helped.

But what matters for God’s people is that God knows what we did, he’ll take care of the outcome, and he’ll take care of us in the end. “Be strong and courageous.”