Courage is a word that many people use, but I don’t think we fully understand. What does it mean to be courageous? What does it mean to have courage? I have wondered if this word would describe me? I would like to think so. But, I won’t presume it is true.
We often associate courage with great deeds. A fireman runs into a burning building. A police officer confronts an armed criminal. A soldier goes into a fight not knowing how many of the enemy he will find. These are just a few of the more common images we think about when we think about courage. And I will grant it does take courage to do these things. To confront our fear and to do what most people would consider crazy can be a courageous act.
What strikes me as odd is that in the Scriptures, we find obedience to God’s will described as courageous. One of the best examples is Jesus as he was waiting to be arrested. He is in prayer in the garden and he knows he has been betrayed. It will only be a matter of time before his traitor returns. He prays to God the Father and asks for the cup of wrath that awaits him at the cross to pass. But, instead of demanding this, he simply adds, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Not my will.
Obedience is a courageous act. Every time we fight against our own tendency and do what God has commanded it is courageous. Multiplying this obedience by every day is also an act of courage. I think that over the years obedience has become something that we can do or not. Something that if we get it right then we are good to go. However, this attitude does a great disservice to our witness. Every time we “slip up” we are reaffirming in the minds of those who are observing our lives, that this faith thing we claim to have does not really have a grip on us.
You see, fighting to obey when what we really want to do is give in takes courage. It is difficult and it is what God expects from us. We are not supposed to run when God commands that we love our enemies. We are not supposed to cringe in fear when God calls us to give up all our riches for those in need. We are not supposed to give up when the circumstances of our lives did not turn out the way we had hoped, dreamed, or envisioned.
Fighting through to obedience is courageous. And God is calling us to a “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9). To not allow what is happening around us to distract us from the vow we have made to serve and obey God, our King.
The season of Lent challenges us to remain persistent until the end. Just like Jesus!