Courage is found in Scripture only 20 times, and of those 20 times, 16 of them are preceded by the word good. Good courage. What is the difference between courage and good courage?
It is simple really, yet the difference means everything in our walk of faith. God is good. He is the very essence of the word. Jesus Himself said that no one was good — only God. So good courage means being courageous in God’s power and ability to uphold His own promises.
The first three mentions of good courage in the Old Testament are life lessons for us all. They come from Moses. He first sent the spies into the land that they were going to conquer. He told them that whether the land was fat or lean, to be of good courage, and to bring back the fruit. We are to trust in the Lord’s assignment for us, whether the task before us looks promising or futile.
The next two times are in one of Moses’ last speeches to the people, when he was 120 years old, before his death. This is my personal favorite Old Testament verse. Moses had lived so many years leading the people and trying to encourage them in their faith. His own self-eulogy, if you will, is what he wanted them and us to always know. “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deut 31:6, KJV). Then he turns to Joshua, his protégé, and repeats this charge to him.
David instructs Solomon the same way. “And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou has finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.” (1 Chr 28:20).
Good courage is not being courageous in ourselves and our own abilities. It is not knowing that we are smart and can figure out a way to solve a problem. It is not in knowing that we have trained for something and will be able to finish the race in first place. And it is definitely not in our own ability to manipulate others to do what we want.
David certainly didn’t have courage in his own abilities when he slew Goliath — he had courage because of his faith in God. Daniel certainly didn’t have courage to think he could conquer lions in the lions’ den — he had courage because of his faith in God. We know that Moses certainly did not have courage in his ability to speak eloquently to Pharoah — he only had courage because of his faith in God. God is our courage.
Good courage is simple, yet it is a way of life — a way of life that God strengthens in us. Good courage is knowing that we are saved through Jesus Christ, and with that Salvation comes the assurance that God will perform all that He has sworn to do.
He will never leave us nor forsake us. He goes before us — as Jesus said, He knows what we need before we even ask. Good courage equals Godly courage. Not courage in ourselves, but courage in God and in His ability to provide all for us as His children.
Good courage is knowing that He has directed our paths — even when we have stepped out of line at times — our learning, our skills, our emotions and even our hopes and dreams, in order to help us glorify Him with our lives each day.
So my dear readers, Be of Good Courage. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24). And while you are at it, pass it along… “They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.” (Isa 41:6).
Sometimes having courage means simply to wait upon the Lord, and know without a doubt that He is in control and He will do what needs to be done. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psa 27:14). Waiting on the Lord, at times, takes a lot more courage than trying to jump into action and do it ourselves. Sometimes it takes the form of silently trusting God alone. Let us remember to have courage — faith in the Lord. God is always there for His children.