Deuteronomy 31:6 “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.”
Until 2014, living courageously was a term I applied to people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. These were people that had faced unspeakable odds and rose to the occasion; People that faced death and either stood their ground and died or survived the challenge. These were great people, people of acclaim and notoriety. These were people of value and purpose. These were people that exemplified right living. These were people of courage.
The common definition of courage is being motivated from the heart to do something brave. Clearly, the folk mentioned above were motivated beyond belief to face adversity. But was this simple definition enough? Did these people possess something more?
I learned early in my journey that this definition of courage was not enough to give me the strength I needed. My heart was not strong enough on its own. It would take something more than a feeling. It would take the sovereign power of God to motivate my heart to face and defeat my challenges.
In those early days following my diagnosis of cancer, I searched for resources to aid me, support me on this voyage. I was a boat without a rudder, and I needed the plan to build one. I was in need of something to help me develop courage. As usual, I felt that I’d find the magic answer to my question and implement a plan by that answer. I was forever the strong, confident woman that could do and handle it all. I would say to God, “I got this. Thanks for the guidance; I can take it from here. I’ll call when I need more help.” I was in control!
Before my journey, I lived what I thought a self-sufficient life. I made my life happen. When I prayed, it was for strength to make it happen. I was autonomous. My relationship with God was defined by my ability to overcome obstacles in my life.
My relationship with others was pretty much the same. Love was something that forever eluded me. Intimacy was not something I experienced. I lived in fear. I feared to be hurt. I feared to be vulnerable. I feared to be out of control.
Over the course of my treatment and into the journey (it has not ended), I learned I was not in control of anything. I discovered the source of my courage, my strength was God, through the salvation of Jesus Christ. Through my Bible studies I learned that I am not to fear, but be courageous, confident and of good cheer, for the Lord is with me (Deuteronomy 31:6); to have no fear of the sudden onset of dangers that could entrap me (Proverbs 3:25-26); to know that God delights in protecting me (Luke 12:32). I meditated on his word day and night. Slowly, I realized that through God’s grace and mercy, I had the courage I needed to make the passage.
Being courageous did not mean eliminating fear or avoiding fear. Fear is a primal instinct and can be healthy and lifesaving. As a Christian, it meant accepting fear as a naturally occurring emotion, but relying on God for the strength and courage to fight it. It is believing and accepting that God would and will provide the motivation of the heart necessary to be brave for the journey.
Teri McClanahan is a Spiritual Cancer Coach. Using the teachings of Jesus Christ, she will help you find strength for the journey ahead. Ms. McClanahan is available for speaking engagements and presentations about her strength journey. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.