Intersection of Life and Faith

9 Ways to Choose Courage during the COVID-19 Crisis

  • David Sanford Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 24 Apr
9 Ways to Choose Courage during the COVID-19 Crisis

Four weeks after my state implemented COVID-19 restrictions, I donned a protective face mask and ventured out to buy something I needed right away. Halfway from my car to the big front doors, I hesitated.

Almost no customers were wearing masks. I chose courage. Inside, no employees were wearing masks or taking other protective measures. Again, I chose courage. And that’s just shopping for 2-inch nails.

In the days ahead, you and I are going to need to choose courage more than ever!

Here are 9 ways to choose courage at every turn.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/itref

  • 1. Don’t Forget Courage Isn’t Bravado

    1. Don’t Forget Courage Isn’t Bravado

    If you know you’re going to live forever, what risks are you willing to take here on earth? And are those risks motivated by courage (willing to die for God, country, and fellow man) or propelled by bravado?

    My wife likes to quip, “Young men should do dangerous things so they have stories to tell when they’re older.”

    Before I reached age thirteen, I had invented and was the sole practitioner of BMX ramp design, construction, testing, and “big air” shows in north Seattle. According to Wikipedia, I was four years ahead of the southern California kids using swimming pools. Even then, they weren’t doing “big air” 360 head-over-heels flips like me.

    Before age eighteen, I was hanging over 400 feet of vertical air climbing one-handed up a sheer ice face on Glacier Peak’s Kennedy Ridge.

    I still remember the day I woke up, realized I was married and had two kids, and needed to stop doing dangerous things.

    The opposite, cowardice, isn’t the answer. Instead, the answer is to abhor bravado and ask God for daily courage in each sphere of life, including courageous marriage

    2. Exercise Self-Control

    Our society seems bent on the idea of trying to become more rebellious, more risk-taking, less inhibited, more outrageous, less self-controlled. This bent against self-control inevitably hurts our community, our family, and our friends. Ultimately, it hurts us.

    If you and I lack self-control, then who’s in control of our thoughts, speech, and actions? One option is we’re giving in to the desires of the nature we were born with. That nature’s passions and desires are anything but self-controlled.

    Another option is we may be manipulated or controlled by the devil. If we let Satan control us, he will rob us of everything that’s good in our lives. He will tempt us to take risky, reckless, dangerous, physically destructive, and even suicidal actions (John 8:44, John 10:10, Ephesians 6:11, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 John 3:8, Revelation 21:9).

    Even purely out of self-interest, you and I would do well to decide in our hearts that we want God’s help to be self-controlled.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Choreograph

  • 3. Don’t Equate Feelings With Reality

    3. Don’t Equate Feelings With Reality

    Our culture has made a religion out of equating consciousness of feelings with reality. Feelings never equate reality. They’re only indicators of how we perceive reality at any given time. And—as it’s good to be reminded from time to time—our perceptions never fully approximate reality.

    In every situation, my responses to others quickly show my virtue or lack thereof. First Peter 5:5 says, “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” James 4:10 goes on to say: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

    4. Remember How Much the Lord Knows

    When my loved ones and I spend time together, they readily know whether I’m bearing the fruit of the Lord’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) or walking by my old carnal flesh (Galatians 5:24, Galatians 5:26). I might be clueless, but they know.

    Then again, when scripture says the Lord God knows, there’s no comparison. His knowledge is infinite and eternal. What I know isn’t even 0.00001 percent of what He knows. That’s true about everything I know—both what I know apart from God’s Word, and what I know from it. Scripture reveals important, eternal truths you and I need to know, including biblical manhood, but let’s never assume that’s all God knows.

    We dare not forget the Lord knows everythingEvery sparrow. Every hair. Every raindrop in last night’s downpour. And the Lord doesn’t just know. He cares. He cares deeply. He loves us infinitely and eternally.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Naassom Azevedo

     

  • 5. Everything You Want Is Found in God

    5. Everything You Want Is Found in God

    In the Psalms, Gospels, and Epistles, we discover a profound truth. Listen carefully to each set of two verses.

    King David’s friend Asaph says these amazing words: “Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (Psalm 73:25-26 NLT). Asaph’s greatest desire wasn’t money, sex, and power.

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says these even more remarkable words: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

    The apostle Paul admits: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 ESV).

    The profound truth is this: Everything we desire, want, and need is found in the Lord, and through the Lord alone. Why look anywhere else?

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet

  • 6. Turn to God in Humility

    6. Turn to God in Humility

    We’re all going to experience crises of life, usually when we least expect it, often from a completely unexpected source. Ahead of time we have a decision to make. Are we going to handle life as rugged individualists? Or are we going to respond before God in humility, trust, and submission?

    Ultimately, when it comes to submission, trust, humility, or any other aspect of life and godliness, we see the perfect model within the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Within the Trinity, there are different functional roles in the midst of complete equality, harmony, and intimacy.

    We never have to worry about the Father dominating the Son, or a power struggle breaking out between the Son and the Spirit. Instead, they’re One.

    Wise men throughout history have taught that a right view of God in heaven will save us from ten thousand ills here on earth.

    When we find ourselves struggling to submit to God, let’s get on our knees and ask for the Holy Spirit’s empowering and filling (Ephesians 5:18). It sounds old-fashioned, it sounds mystical, but it works. Not just today, but for a lifetime.

    Photo Credit: ©Gettyimages/Halfpoint

  • 7. Rejoice in Your Wonderful Savior

    7. Rejoice in Your Wonderful Savior

    During His public ministry here on earth, Jesus saw tens of thousands of men, women, youth, and children. He saw them with gracious, loving eyes. He still does. Does Jesus have any other way of seeing us? Yes, if someone was a hypocrite, he or she better get ready for harsh rebukes and public shame. Nothing was off the table until Jesus turned around a hypocrite.

    Then again, what are the incredible implications if Jesus wasn’t a hypocrite? It would mean that Jesus didn’t just say walk a second mile. He had done it. Maybe more than once. Jesus didn’t just say turn the other cheek. He had been slapped. Hard. Jesus didn’t just say give your shirt. When sued, He gave the man His coat as well.

    What’s more, Jesus didn’t stop. On the day of His death, Jesus, already severely flogged, endures fist after fist smashing into His face. Then Jesus walks, haltingly, up the hill to His place of crucifixion. There, Jesus is disrobed, nailed, lifted up, and left hanging between heaven and earth while Roman soldiers divide up all of His clothes.

    Today, Jesus walks with us, every mile. When we fail Him, Jesus forgives us and turns the other cheek. Yes, He always knows we will fail Him again. Still, He clothes us with His own robes of righteousness. And that is how the Lord God sees us, right now, no matter what. Again, what a Savior!

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Mumemories

  • 8. Always Keep Growing Stronger

    8. Always Keep Growing Stronger

    Someone much older and wiser than me once said, “Silently and imperceptibly as we work or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak; and at least some crisis shows us what we have become” (B. F. Westcott). He added that crises “do not make heroes or cowards; they simply reveal them.”

    So, what kind of man are you becoming? Are you becoming a man of backbone, boldness, determination, durability, faithfulness, fortitude, grit, guts, mettle, moxie, patience, persistence, resilience, resolution, stamina, staying power, steadfastness, straightforwardness, stick-to-it-iveness, tenacity, and toughness?

    What’s more, do you know the meaning of adversity, bravery, conviction, discipline, endurance, fearlessness, gratitude, hardship, insult, joy, keeping the faith, listening to the Lord, motivation, never giving up, oppression, perseverance, quietness, righteousness, strength, trustworthiness, understanding, vibrancy, wholeheartedness, expectation, yearning, and zeal from the Lord?

    9. Ask God for a ‘Barnabas’

    My favorite biblical character is Levi, nicknamed Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”). Barnabas was a close friend of the 12 apostles of Jesus, the apostle Paul, doctor Luke, and many others. My favorite verse about Barnabas says “he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord” (Acts 11:23 NLT). I love the fact that Luke starts by saying “he was filled with joy.”

    What a gift of God to have such friends. I’m richly blessed. One such friend is Lt. Col. Larkin Spivey, U.S. Marines (retired). After we had known each other for a few years, Larkin gave me a large, colorful, specially-minted coin. It’s called a Marines challenge coin. It’s an honor and, yes, a challenge to live up to the ideals represented by such a gift.

    Imagine the power and rich blessings you will enjoy when God gives you one or two such friends.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages


    David Sanford's book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His newest book is Choose Courage: 3-Minute Devotions for Men.