The Enemies of Courage
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” -- John 16:33 (NLT)
As Christians, we often desire to trust God and walk by faith, but sometimes living a life of courage is difficult. Our adversary, the devil, wants nothing more than to keep us physically, emotionally, and spiritually weak so we are unable to choose courage and fulfill the plans God has for us. Consequently, our hearts and minds must be trained to recognize the enemies of courage, so that we are not easily distracted, discouraged, and detoured from living courageously.
The Bible not only provides great examples of courage for us to follow but also, reveals the enemies of courage we must recognize and defeat. In 1 Kings 18:17-39, the prophet Elijah courageously risked his reputation and even his life to expose the futility of Israel’s belief in false gods. As a result, God allowed Elijah to experience His power and presence in a miraculous way on Mount Caramel when He sent fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice in front of all of Israel and 800 false prophets. But sadly, in 1 Kings 19, after Elijah had just demonstrated remarkable courage and experienced the power and presence of God, we find the prophet fearful, fatigued, and lonely.
This account reminds us of three specific enemies of courage we must be quick to recognize:
The first enemy of courage we must recognize is fear. Elijah had just had what many today would call “a mountain top experience,” not only literally on top of Mount Caramel, but spiritually, as He saw God perform a miracle. Yet, in 1 Kings 19 (only one chapter later), we are told Elijah was overcome with fear to the point he ran for his life when queen Jezebel found out all he had done (v.3).
When you catch yourself running from opportunities, worrying about the future, or fearing what others think of you, recognize your fears and remind yourself of the truth about who God is and what He can do for you––that He will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6)–– that He will work all things together for good (Romans 8:28)––and that He has called you to live a life of faith, not fear (Psalm 118:6; 1 Timothy 1:7). We must be especially mindful when we have that “mountaintop experience” and feel spiritually strong that the devil will do whatever it takes to make us fearful.
The second enemy of courage we must recognize is fatigue. In 1 Kings 18:40-46, Elijah had just defeated all of the false prophets of Israel (v. 40) and had even outrun the King (v. 46), but because he became fearful of Jezebel, he ran for his life and journeyed into the desert causing him to become fatigued and weary. Fear often leads to fatigue.
When we are fearful, we often neglect to physically and spiritually nourish ourselves like we should causing us to become fatigued. In fact, how often do we waste our energy worrying and even running in the wrong direction? When you are fatigued and weary, do what you know to do even if you do not feel like it. Eat when you do not feel like it. Worship when you do not feel like it. Attend church when you do not feel like it. The devil certainly wants to get you to a place of fatigue, so you will not be effective for the Kingdom of God. Fatigue zaps your courage, so work hard to stay strengthened physically and spiritually (Matthew 4:4).
Finally, the third enemy of courage we must recognize is loneliness. Despite being powerfully used by God, Elijah became subject to loneliness (1 Kings 19:10,14). Yet, God is amazing in that He would tenderly call Elijah into His presence (v. 11), remind him of his purpose (vv.15-18), and bring him a companion in Elisha to walk alongside him at a time when he felt less than courageous (vv. 19-21).
When you feel alone, draw near to the Lord through Bible study, prayer, and worship, remind yourself of your purpose and calling and be careful not to further isolate yourself (Proverbs 18:1). Instead, draw near to those who love you and look for ways to reach out to those who may need a friend in you. Ask the Lord to reaffirm His presence and plan to you remembering He is always with you (Psalm 23:4).
What is your greatest enemy of courage? How do you plan to embrace more of your God-given courage to defeat your enemy?
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