Courage for the Taking

May 13, 2021

“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.” Acts 23:11

Take courage.

What a deeply personal exchange is represented in the verse above. 

Paul was in chains amidst a plot to take his very life. He faced death for proclaiming and spreading the good news of Jesus. I can only imagine that Paul was utterly terrified. He was human, after all. 

But even in the midst of his fear, the Lord drew near to Paul and uttered this simple, yet powerful phrase.  

Take courage.

This exchange reminds us of the night before the crucifixion. Crying out to God the Father, Jesus earnestly prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42 NIV).”

What a display of courage in facing death, courage that would lead Jesus through an excruciating death.

So when the Lord told Paul to take courage, He knew what He was asking of Paul. Jesus knew how it felt to face death.

The same holds true in our lives.

I learned this first hand when I came to the excruciating part of my own grief journey. I had checked what I had thought were all the boxes through my first year after losing my husband, but I had yet to allow myself to feel the full weight of deep sadness. I was avoiding that fundamental piece because I was terrified I would not survive the engulfing waves of sorrow.

Take courage.

This phrase from Acts 27 above is what gave me the courage to allow myself to fully let go and grieve. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but I experienced the closeness of Jesus in a way I could never have asked or imagined.

Take courage. 

The Lord draws near. 

When we face circumstances that require us to be courageous, Jesus knows how we feel. He is not asking us to do anything He has not already experienced in His time on earth. We can be confident that He already knows what we are up against because He has gone before us. And He will stay right beside us when we are afraid.

Whatever courageous act you are facing, pray and ask the Lord to give you the strength to carry it through. When you feel afraid, overwhelmed, even terrified, honestly tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to be your courage and your strength.

You see, Jesus doesn’t just give courage. He is Courage. And His provision for the hard roads ahead of us is endless.

Written by Melissa Henderson, Guest Contributor