We all face situations when we need strength and courage. What do the examples of bravery in the Bible teach us about how to be strong and of good courage?
When you think of examples of bravery, you might think of a war hero or a secret agent working undercover. But there are also examples of courage a lot closer to home.
The firefighter who enters a burning building is courageous. So is the woman who suddenly becomes single and must care for and support small children by herself. And so is the Christian who forfeits his job rather than work even a few hours on God’s Sabbath.
Examples of courage in the Bible
There are many biblical examples of God’s people being brave. Joshua had to be brave as he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land and had to face the Canaanites. Both Moses and God told Joshua to be courageous (Deuteronomy 31:7; Joshua 1:6-7). So perhaps Joshua didn’t always feel that way.
Joshua also told his soldiers to be brave: “Then Joshua said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight’” (Joshua 10:25).
King David’s men who went to Bethlehem when it was held by the Philistines in order to get David some water from the well were courageous (2 Samuel 23:14-16). You might call this foolhardy, but it was certainly brave.
Daniel’s courage and faith
In captivity, the prophet Daniel was courageous when his enemies conspired against him. King Darius of Persia favored Daniel, and this no doubt created jealousy. Other men close to the king persuaded him to create a law that whoever petitioned any god or man but King Darius was to be cast into the den of lions. They did this because they knew that Daniel prayed to God daily, which would be a violation of their new law.
When Daniel learned what had been done, he acted with great courage. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10).
Daniel understood the danger, but nonetheless prayed to God boldly with the windows open. He knew he would be seen and arrested for it. His enemies had planned his death, but Daniel relied on God.
They put him in the lions’ den, but God prevented the lions from attacking Daniel. He was saved from death. Afterward, Daniel’s enemies were put in with the lions and were immediately killed. You can read more about Daniel’s faith in our article “Daniel 6: Daniel in the Lions’ Den.”
New Testament examples of courage and faith
After Jesus was crucified, we see other examples of courage.
“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mark 15:43). There was danger in being considered a friend or follower of Jesus, but Joseph acted anyway.
After the New Testament Church began, Peter and other followers had faith and showed bravery when they preached the good news in Jerusalem right after being beaten for doing just that. Peter boldly told the Sanhedrin, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
After the Sanhedrin “had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (verses 40-42).
What great faith and courage they showed! See more in our article “3 Lessons in Courage From the Apostles.”
Paul was another man of faith and courage. For example, he showed bravery when he went back into the city of Lystra right after being stoned by the Jews who came from there:
“Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (Acts 14:19-20).
God fights our enemies
The army of Israel often faced dilemmas when bravery was needed. Many times, the enemy armies were much larger and had more experience in battle. The likelihood of losing seemed overwhelming, but God took care of His people and His nation.
Shortly after arriving in Canaan, five enemy kings and their armies came together to destroy Israel. They had many more soldiers than Israel, and their generals were experienced.
God understands that, humanly, we may still be fearful, but He asks us to have the faith and trust in Him so we can act courageously despite that fear. He will strengthen us and help us.This battle occurred at Gibeon and the surrounding area. It was a tremendous victory for Israel. But this didn’t happen because of Joshua’s wisdom or his soldiers’ fierceness. It happened because God dropped large hailstones on the enemy soldiers.
Also, in order to make a complete victory possible, God extended the daylight portion of the day. He caused the sun to stand still in the sky (Joshua 10:10-14). No doubt Israel’s army had many brave soldiers, but that is not what won the battle. God did it for them. God did mighty works for His people.
God also sent the judge Gideon, with only 300 soldiers, to battle against a huge army of Midianites, Amalekites and others. Gideon’s soldiers were brave men, but they did not have to fight. God put fear into their enemies’ hearts and they fled. Again, God rescued His people.
It was not the bravery of the soldiers that won the day. “When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled” (Judges 7:22).
What we need to do to become strong and of good courage
Of course, when we face trouble or dangerous circumstances, we need to do what we can to help our situation.
When someone is very angry with us, we need to be thoughtful and careful of how we talk with him or her. When we are short of money, we need to be careful of how we spend what we have. When we are out of work, we need to diligently hunt for jobs. But we know that God is mighty and He wants to help us.
The approach and attitude we should have when we are faced with a terrible or dangerous situation can be summed up in the words of Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
God understands that, humanly, we may still be fearful, but He asks us to have the faith and trust in Him so we can act courageously despite that fear. He will strengthen us and help us.
But what can we do when a bad or dangerous situation is upon us and we don’t feel at all courageous? How can we be brave when our trial calls for bravery, but we feel very weak? We can ask God to strengthen our faith—to give us the courage we need.
King David said that God is a refuge in times of trouble (Psalms 9:9; 31:2). And Paul said that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13). When a bad situation comes to us, we should ask God to help us.
Yes, human bravery is good and desirable, but it is far better to have faith and trust in God. God wants the best for us. He is aware of our problems and wants to hear from us. Ask for help to grow in faith and to be strong and of good courage!
Learn more about growing in faith in our article “How to Grow in Faith.”