But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Mark 6:50b (NLT)
I had my arm around my 9-year-old daughter, Cameron, while we watched The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe together. The spunk and transparency of the youngest character, Lucy, reminded me of Cameron, and I squeezed her a little, hoping she noticed the same.
At one point in the movie, Lucy speaks with Father Christmas, and he asks her if she is ready for the war that will take place in Narnia. He looks down at her and asks her somberly, “Can you be brave?”
Lucy smiles up at him and answers, “I think I could be brave enough.”
I had no idea how important that moment would become.
The words brave enough kindled a flame in my soul as I began to think about all the ways I wanted to be brave enough: brave enough to speak up, brave enough to be graceful, brave enough to forgive.
I might not be facing a war of Narnian proportions, but what if my daily life still required bravery? “Brave enough for today” became a sticky phrase in my head — an inspiration for the morning and a personal challenge when I didn’t want to do the hard thing.
I found myself wanting to be brave enough for my job. Brave enough for my family. Brave enough to mother well and brave enough to make good choices in my marriage.
When Cameron struggled later that year with an injury, I wanted to be brave enough for her. But what I learned along the way was I would never have enough courage on my own to face life without fear. I needed a courage that came from outside myself. My self-manufactured bravery always fell short.
In the Bible, Jesus uses the word courage in very specific ways. The original word means something like “be encouraged” or “take heart”. The phrase take courage is used four times in the Gospels, always by Jesus Himself. In each instance, Jesus begins with a command: “Take courage!” And then Jesus offers the essence of Himself to the person as the way courage will be enacted.
In one account, He says, ‘Take heart!” and then offers forgiveness of sin. In another, He says “Be encouraged!” and then offers healing. And when He walks out on water in the middle of the night, terrifying His disciples, He offers a simple exhortation, “Take courage. It is I!”
No matter what you need to be brave enough for today, Jesus offers to meet you there with what only He can do. He offers you forgiveness when you fail and grace that energizes you to try again. He offers you healing when you hurt and strength that replaces your weakness. He offers you his presence, giving confidence that comes fully from who He is — not who you are.
When you have Jesus, you have all the courage you need, for whatever you may face.
Heavenly Father, I want to believe that in You I have all I need. As I begin today, would You help me be brave enough for whatever You have for me? Give me courage to forgive generously, love fully and shine brightly in the place You’ve placed me to grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 9:2b, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” (NLT)
Matthew 9:22, “Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What do you need to be brave enough for today?
How can you commit that circumstance/person/challenge to God throughout the day?
Nicole Unice’s new book, Brave Enough: Getting Over Our Fears, Flaws, and Failures to Live Bold and Free, and 8-week DVD curriculum are available.
Nicole Unice is a counselor, Bible teacher, and author. She serves as ministry director at Hope Church in Richmond, Viginia, and speaks at reatreats and leadership events nationwide. She and her husband, Dave, have three children.