Be Strong and Courageous

nativity2Do not be afraid. These were the words spoken by the angel to Mary (Luke 1:30).

Fear, I wrote earlier this month, can immobilize us and stop us stepping out with God in his purpose to give us, and other people, a hope and a future. Fear can hold us back, but courage helps us live a full life.

YOLO—so be strong and courageous!

Mary was at first anxious when the angel appeared and spoke to her. God’s intent was for Mary to give birth and be a mother to his Son, the Savior of all people. Likewise, her fiancé Joseph was upset by Mary’s condition, and made the decision that he could no longer accept her as his wife. But Joseph, too, was told to abandon his fear (Matthew 1:20).

For God’s plan to go forward, both Mary and Joseph needed to step out in bravery.

God intended Joseph to be a father to Jesus—to take care of him and nurture him in the Jewish faith (Luke 2:21-24, 39-42). Joseph was also responsible for leading Mary and the child Jesus to safety in Egypt, away from the threat of Herod (Matthew 2:13-15).

Responsibility and real risk were involved, yet Mary and Joseph put aside their fears and were obedient so that God’s purpose could come to fruition.

The command to not be afraid appears repeatedly in scripture—but antonyms to the word fear are more frequent. These are words much more associated with God’s message, his attributes and character: assurance, confidence, contentment, encouragement, faith, joy, trust, comfort, love, and courage.

Mary focused on these aspects of God, and this became the source of her courage. She sang:

My soul glorifies the Lord

 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful

 of the humble state of his servant.

 From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him,

 from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

 he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones

 but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

 but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

 to Abraham and his descendants forever,

 just as he promised our ancestors. Luke 1:46-55

Her song is full of fearlessness: Assurance for God has done great things; confidence because God is the holy and Mighty One; comfort and contentment because he filled the hungry; encouragement because his mercy extends to those who fear him; faith in God my Savior; joy as her spirit rejoices; and trust and love as her soul glorifies the Lord.

God’s plans are accomplished through our involvement, too.

Redirect your fear. Find your source of courage in God. Step out, and be strong and courageous.

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