Courage is a funny thing. It seems to come and go like the wind, sometimes there when we need it most and sometimes seeming to abandon us at the last second before we take a plunge forward. It takes a lot of courage, though, to live in this crazy world these days, and these Bible verses on courage in God’s Word are a great place to find the encouragement we need.
What is the source of courage?
We often are told we need to “muster up the courage” to do something difficult. This would assume that courage comes from within us. And it does, but not in the way that we typically think. It doesn’t come of our own source, our trust in our own selves or our circumstances. When we do find courage in ourselves or our circumstances or even from others, it’s a fleeting type of courage, the kind of courage that can make us pull back at the last second as we’re reminded of all the times we failed before.
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But repeatedly in God’s Word we see that true, grounded, unwavering courage comes as a byproduct of knowing who our God is, of trusting completely in Him, and knowing He is true to His promises. When we know God, courage is a natural response. We can be bold because we know Who has our back. We can step out in faith because He who promised is faithful. And we can release our grip on the need to cling to what seems safe and familiar, because we know that the safest place to be is in God.
Eight Bible Verses on Courage
If you are in need of courage today – courage to say no to something or someone, courage to do something you’ve long felt within you to do, courage to be yourself, courage to speak up – here are eight scriptures to encourage you.
[ Prefer to watch/listen to this Bible study than read? Check out the Courage Bible Study YouTube video HERE! ]
Joshua 1: 5-9
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In this passage that opens the book of Joshua, God speaks directly to Joshua to encourage him as he and the Israelites prepare to cross the Jordan River into the promised land. It’s not an easy journey to prepare for. In fact, Joshua already knows the Israelites have many a battle ahead of them to take the territory that God promised them. Nevertheless, Joshua is able to lead the people with courage, not because of his confidence in himself but because He knows God will be with them no matter what. Joshua is able to be courageous because He knows He serves a God who is faithful to His promises.
2 Chronicles 19:9-11
He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord. In every case that comes before you from your people who live in the cities—whether bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or regulations—you are to warn them not to sin against the Lord; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your people. Do this, and you will not sin….
Act with courage, and may the Lord be with those who do well.”
In this scripture, King Jehoshaphat of Judah appoints and commissions judges to administer the law and settle disputes. This passage comes with a strong warning that should the judges not warn the people against sin, God’s wrath will surely fall on them. However, these judges are also urged to act with courage as they lead. If the judges serve faithfully with the fear of the Lord in their hearts and follow God’s ways, they can lead with courage, because God’s promise stands that He will be with those who do well to follow Him. Likewise, when we walk in God’s ways and listen to His guidance, we can be sure our path is secure. We can have courage to stand strong because we know He will be with us.
2 Chronicles 32:7-8
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8 With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.
In this scripture, King Hezekiah of Judah speaks to his army as they are about to be attacked. The King encourages them saying that they have nothing to fear for the army of the enemy is of flesh, but the army of Judah is backed by God’s spiritual forces. They find courage not in the strength of their numbers or the skillfulness of their army but rather in their confidence in God. In our own lives, we can have the same outlook. The world around us is but flesh, which we know will fade away, but we have the backing of the Almighty God!
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
These are the words Jesus speaks as He is walking on the water toward the disciples. The disciples are in the boat, terrified of the figure they see walking on the water, but all it takes is for Jesus to tell them, “It is I” for them to begin to find courage. The disciples are able to heed Jesus’ words, take courage, and be lifted up in their hearts not because they suddenly become brave but rather because they are aware of who Jesus is. With Jesus is the picture, there is no need to be afraid. Courage in this passage is yet again not sourced from the disciples’ own strength but instead as a byproduct of confidence in who God is.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
In this passage in Acts, Peter and John stand before the rulers of the law in Jerusalem to defend themselves after having been arrested for preaching the gospel. Much to the court’s amazement, Peter and John speak eloquently and with great boldness and confidence, never once falling back or cowering in fear, as they not only defend themselves but also preach the gospel before the leaders. The rulers don’t simply note, though, the courage and eloquence of Peter and John; they discern that this courage is the result of them having been with Jesus. We as God’s children have the same Holy Spirit powered courage living inside of us, too, that others can see and know is sourced not of ourselves but from knowing God.
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
This passage finds Paul sitting in prison following a great uproar in court as a number of Jews simultaneously conspire to kill him. Yet with all this occurring around Paul, Jesus meets him in the night and, in the same manner He told the disciples to Take Courage when he was walking on water, He tells Paul to take courage. Despite his dire circumstances, Paul finds courage in the presence of Jesus and subsequent promise because He knows God is faithful to fulfill what He says He will. In the days following, Paul uses this courage to speak the gospel before high leadership including the High Priest and governor Felix. In the same way, we can find courage in God’s promises. We know He will be with us, so we don’t have to fear no matter what the circumstances around us may be or who we are faced up against.
for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
As Paul writes to the Philippian church, he is imprisoned but still preaching the gospel. Despite his situation, Paul is confident in God’s faithfulness. Paul finds courage in knowing that whether he is ultimately released from chains or dies in prison, God will be exalted. At the end of it all, Paul remains hopeful and courageous not because of his own desires or strength, but rather because he knows that God will work it all things together for the good. He finds courage, as we also can, not in knowing what will happen but in knowing the God who is over it all.
1 Samuel 30:6 KJV
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
In this passage, David finds himself in a dark place after he and his men realized their families had been taken captive by their enemies. But instead of cowering in fear or exerting his own strength, David chose to encourage himself in the Lord. The word “encourage” contains the word “courage” in it. When we encourage ourselves or one another, we are pointing out the truth that creates a solid foundation for courage to flourish. David did not waste time wallowing but instead reminded himself of the faithfulness and goodness of God. Following this, David sought the guidance of God, pursued the party that captured the wives and children, and ultimately overtook them, gaining back above and beyond what was stolen from them. In the same way, when our circumstances look bleak, we can encourage ourselves in God, reminding ourselves of His promises and faithfulness in our lives, knowing He is doing a greater work than we could begin to imagine.
The Bottom Line of Courage
There are times in our lives when we all need courage. In fact, more often than not we are in need of courage to accomplish the tasks set before us each day. The beautiful thing is that we don’t have to muster up the courage within ourselves. Instead, we can look to our God and be reminded of how good He is. There really is no work to be done but to reflect on God’s faithfulness, and courage becomes a natural byproduct.
Courage is a gift from God. It allows us to say and do the things God has set before us to do, and it inspires us to move forward through our lives with confidence and boldness. Courage comes not from knowing what lies ahead or knowing we are capable but rather from resting in the One who is above all, trusting that “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Watch/Listen to the Bible Study Discussion on Courage HERE: