Life scares the heck out of me sometimes. Most of the time, if I’m really honest.
When it comes to making the tough decisions, holding the line with my kids, being honest in relationships, fear can start to make me feel like a downright coward.
I’m not the only one in this boat. When I asked people what one trait they’d change about themselves if they could, one woman answered, “Being fearful of failure and the judgment of others . . . to the point that it has limited new things I have tried or experiences I have had.”
Essentially, fear that she’s not. . . enough. In the estimation of others, and maybe even in her own assessment.
Perhaps you can relate?
It takes courage to trust we’re good or smart or patient or strong enough in life.
And I’ve got good news for you: even a scared-stiff coward can be brave because courage isn’t a feeling. It’s what we do, not how we feel. When we’re doing the scary, step-out-of-our-comfort-zone things that chip away at our confidence, courage is active.
The Bible has a lot to say about courage. Through most of the Old Testament, two Hebrew words are used: amats and chazaq. In the original language, chazaq means “to strengthen, prevail, become strong, be firm, be resolute.” In the New Testament, we find a comparable Greek word like stēkō (to stand firm) used dozens of times. The point is this: it’s a process.
Having courage in who we are—quirks and weaknesses and all—is a choosing. A doing. A living. Feelings have nothing to do with it!
Courage is also a gift, not something we have to muster. It’s not something we conjure or strive for. It’s something God creates in us. While we’re living life bravely despite our fears, the feelings of bravery build in us. Throughout Scripture, when God tells someone to “be strong and courageous,” the original Hebrew words connote God’s strengthening that person as God speaks (Deuteronomy 31:7, Joshua 1:7 NIV). It’s an act of creation, just as at the start of time but ongoing in us every day. And it’s already ours for the asking.
When we’re trying to live courageously—to bravely trust we’re enough—we need a lot of encouragement! And guess what? The root words for “courage” and “encourage” are the same. In the New Testament we find the term parakaleō, which means “to advocate, to comfort, to come alongside and strengthen” (encourage). Here’s the kicker: the name of the Spirit of God, who is given to all who believe, is paraklētos, a form of the verb “to encourage.”
This means we have powerful, life-giving encouragement every moment, every day, in every situation. We are, truly, not alone. We’ve got the living Spirit of the Mighty God breathing courage into us, over us, through us.
Even on our worst self-esteem days, we have to admit He’s enough, right? If God’s enough, and the courage-creating Spirit of God is in us, then maybe together we’re not enough after all.
We’re . . .more than that.
“. . .in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
How could that change the way we experience our circumstances today?
(This post is excerpted from my book, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful — releasing next week!)