We Will Take Courage and Wait on the Lord

by Jacob Juncker

This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

READINGS: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear, that together we might learn and be inspired to live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.


“Courage is” was the first single released by the Indie/Pop Rock band, The Strange Familiar.  The song gets its name from the adaptive refrain which talks about the nature of courage.

Courage is when you’re afraid
But you keep on moving anyway

Courage is when you’re in pain,
But you keep on living anyway

Courage is when you’ve lost your way,
But you find your strength anyway

Courage is when you’re afraid
Courage is when it all seems grey
Courage is when you make a change,
And you keep on living anyway[1]

The fireman who rushes into a burning building to save a trapped child has courage.  He sets aside his fear of injury and death and “keeps on moving anyway.”  The marine, wounded by enemy fire, who pulls a comrade to safety has courage.  In spite of her pain, she drags her wounded, commanding officer to safety.  She “keeps on moving anyway.”  The addict whose life seems to be spiraling out of control shows courage when he seeks help: admitting he has a problem.  He’s lost his way, but he “keeps on moving anyway.”  The teen who cuts herself and is contemplating suicide shows courage when she makes a conscientious decision to live or not cut.  In spite of her fear, even though the world seems grey, she decides to find hope, make a change, “and keep on living anyway.”

John Wayne is attributed with saying, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”[2]  There’s a great deal of truth in that statement.

Courage is about doing, staying true to *WHATEVER* in the face of great hardship.  Courage is not without fear, doubt, pain, and criticism.  Courage is mastery of fear, doubt, pain, and criticism.  It’s refocusing all of that nervous anxiety into a single direction that overcomes adversity and produces something beautiful—something that benefits, for the better, an individual, community, or world.

What does it mean to have a courageous faith?

In our Epistle lesson for today, Paul encourages the church to “stand firm.”  He pleads with the faithful in Philippi:

17-19 Stick with me, friends…  There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

4 My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.[3]

Paul’s plea to the church then and now is that we stand firm, stay on track, and live faith courageously.

Paul reminds us that a courageous faith is one that stands firm in the belief that God will accomplish all that God has promised.  There will come a time when Jesus will “transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21, Common English Bible).

A courageous faith takes all of our fears, temptations, and doubts…  A courageous faith takes the criticisms and distractions of the world…and places all of that nervous anxiety and tension squarely before God, trusting that what God has promised, God will do.  A courageous faith is focused on God’s promises and committed to living their truth in the world.

Abram had a courageous faith (see Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18)

Abram believed in God’s promises and lived into their truth.  That doesn’t mean that Abram wasn’t afraid.  He was (see Genesis 15:1).  It doesn’t mean that Abram didn’t question God or God’s ability.  He did (see Genesis 15:2 and 15:8).  Abram (later to be known as Abraham) is fearful and doubtful.  And, yet, “Abram trusted the LORD” (Genesis 15:6, Common English Bible).  Instead of allowing fear and doubt to paralyze him, Abram simply placed all of that worry and fear before the LORD and trusted in God’s promise.  God had promised to give him a beautiful and bountiful land that would allow him to prosper: make him a great nation, numberless like the stars.  And, in fact, Abram did walk into the land God had promised.  And, his spiritual descendants are as numerous as the stars.  He’s the spiritual forefather of three of the world’s most prominent religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Abram had a courageous faith.

Jesus had courageous faith (see Luke 13:31-35)

In a strange act of compassion, the Pharisees warned Jesus, “Run for your life!  Herod’s on the hunt.  He’s out to kill you” (Luke 13:31, The Message).  In an act of courage, Jesus didn’t let the threats of a worldly King keep him from accomplishing the mission God had given him:

…to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.[4]

Jesus is so confident in his mission—confident in living into God’s promises—that he makes a snarky comment:

“Tell that fox that I’ve no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I’m busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I’m wrapping things up. Besides, it’s not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.[5]

It didn’t matter that the King of Judah was threatening his life.  Jesus stood confidently, believing and living into God’s promises.  Jesus had a courageous faith.

Do you have a courageous faith?

We’re each called to live courageous lives of faith focused on God’s promises and committed to living their truth in the world.  Do you have, as the Psalmist boldly proclaims, a sure faith that you will experience the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living (see Psalm 27:13)?

Dale Carnegie is quoted as saying that “Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit [at] home and think about it.  Go out and get busy.”[6]

14 Hope in the Lord!
Be strong! Let your heart take courage!
Hope in the Lord!

Get busy.  Take courage—knowing that you will not only see, but experience God’s goodness, here, in the living.  Live courageous lives believing that what God has promised, God will do.  Stand firm. Stay on track. Live a courageous faith.

[1] “The Strange Familiar—Courage Is lyrics,” LyricsMode.com <http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/the_strange_familiar/courage_is.html> Accessed February 22, 2013.

[2] “Courage Quotes—BrainyQuote,” BrainyQuote.com <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_courage.html> Accessed February 22, 2013.

[3] Philippians 3:17-4:1, The Message.

[4] Luke 4:18b-19, The Common English Bible.

[5] Luke 13:32-33, The Message.

[6] “Courage Quotes—BrainyQuote,” BrainyQuote.com <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_courage.html> Accessed February 22, 2013.