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Nearly every day my waking thoughts are fearful and unbelieving.
Before I walk out the door, I’ve already come up with several reasons why things won’t go the way I hope they will, and I start getting afraid of the challenges that lie ahead. Perhaps you can relate.
Here are some thoughts that run through my head that make me feel anxious about my day:
- “You’re no good.”
- “No one cares about you.”
- “You can’t do anything right.”
- “You’re going to mess everything up.”
- “Don’t even try.”
If you have a recording of negative thoughts in your head playing loud and on repeat, you’re not likely to be taking any faithful action anytime soon. We need to turn to God’s Word for help by reading stories of courage in the Bible.
I began this courage Bible study because I needed a way to fight the ever-present anxiety that clings to me as a result of my fearful thinking. And while there are plenty of Bible lessons on fear available out there, I felt that it would help me to focus on key characters in the Bible who had to overcome fear and self-doubt.
These stories of courage in the Bible give me hope and a pathway to overcome my anxiety. The Bible tells us about many men and women who defeated their fear and anxiety by learning to depend on God. I believe their faith in God will inspire you to be courageous, too.
Table of Contents
Moses: The courage to face the past
Moses faced his insecurity and fears by responding to God’s call to go back to Egypt where his fears began. He was motivated by God’s vision of working through him to save his people, the Jews, from the suffering they were experiencing.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”Exodus 3:11-12 ESV
According to this Bible verse, Moses gained courage because God promised that he would be with him through this journey. In turn, Moses’ bravery inspired the Jews to follow his lead through the parting of the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians.
This passage changed my life. It inspired me to trust in God and return to a troubled familial relationship I had spent a long time running from. After years of distance, I went back and apologized for how I had chosen to be bitter instead of deciding to resolve the issues that were separating us.
The conversation went well, and as a result there was healing. My family member described this talk as “the best conversation they had ever had,” and I was able to experience their forgiveness and gratitude.
- What are some unresolved experiences that you have avoided that you are anxious about to this day?
- Do you think that when you begin to read the Bible and believe God’s promise to be with you, you can reconcile a difficult relationship? How has fear of rejection held you back?
- Who are family and friends that you can inspire to imitate your courage developed from spending time with God?
David: The courage to face impossible situations
The book of 1 Samuel chronicles the epic power struggle between the Israelites and their chief enemy at the time, the Philistines. Though King Saul and the Israelite soldiers were dismayed by the daily threats of their enemy’s giant, David took courage to fight Goliath. He was motivated by his disdain for Goliath’s defiance against God and his people.
And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”  And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”  And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37 ESV
David had courage because of the countless times that God protected him from danger in his past. He had steadfast confidence that God would deliver him against opposition. David acted on faith to fight Goliath with a slingshot, and God gave him victory. As a result, the whole army fought at his side and, with God’s help, won a great battle that day.
- What are some experiences that you are afraid to tackle because you believe they are impossible to overcome?
- Do you think they are insurmountable because you have only tried to work on them by yourself?
- Do you believe you can overcome your fear of failure?
Esther: The courage to take a big risk
Esther risked her life to persuade her husband, King Xerxes, to foil the plans of Haman to annihilate the Jews in their country. She was motivated by the faith, taught by her uncle Mordecai, that she would be fulfilling the call to save God’s people through her.
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”Esther 4:16 ESV
According to this passage, Esther prayed and fasted to put her trust in God to give her courage to plead with King Xerxes to protect her people. Her faithful sacrifice paved the way for the Jews in her country to stand up against attacks on them and fight back and protect one another. God brought about a great victory for them that day.
- Who are people that God has placed in your life to tell you how to live according to his Word, like Mordecai did for Esther?
- In the difficult situations in your life, have you prayed and fasted to put your trust in God’s plan to bring about victory? Do you want to learn to trust God?
- Do you believe your choice to turn to God and act upon his Word will lead to others finding a relationship with him?
Daniel: The courage to not give in
In Daniel chapter 6, a group of politically motivated administrators laid a trap for Daniel by manipulating the king to sign into law a regulation that would put to death anyone who worshipped any god other than him.
Daniel stood on his conviction to pray to God only, in spite of the consequence of being thrown into a den of lions as punishment. He was motivated to face this fear because he was so grateful to God for all the ways God blessed and protected his life. That gratitude made him extraordinarily confident.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.Daniel 6:10 ESV
Daniel’s courage grew through praying three times a day even though it was against the law. His honor of God in prayer overpowered the temptation to be afraid of people. His devotion to God inspired King Darius, a foreign king, to write to all nations in their day to fear and revere God (Daniel 6:25-26 NIV).
- Do you pray in places where you are not distracted? Do you set aside intentional time each day to only pray with God?
- Do you believe living courageously by Scriptures will make a positive impression on people?
- Who are some family and friends that you can pray to inspire with your courage from God?
This devotional is part of a collection of studies about turning to God with our anxiety and worry. View the entire selection for a deeper dive.