God knows His followers need tremendous courage to carry them through the tribulations of life in this fallen world. For this reason, the Bible is filled with bolstering exhortations like this one in Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (NKJV).
To “be of good courage” is to possess an inner quality that enables a person to confront danger and difficulty without fear and with calmness, boldness, confidence, strength, and trust instead. The word translated “wait” in the original language means “trust.” It is echoed in the words of Isaiah 40:31: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (ESV).
This kind of unshakable trust and courage is only possible for those who know the Lord as the Savior. At the very beginning of the psalm, the poet acknowledges, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
In the face of any threat, we can be of good courage because the Lord Himself is with us, and He is worthy of our trust. No night is so long, no darkness so impenetrable, no suffering so painful, no evil so frightful, and no enemy so fierce as to disturb the confidence of the one who has God for his light and the Lord for his salvation. Believers can be of good courage and not be afraid because the Lord is the stronghold of their lives.
God encouraged Joshua to “be strong and of good courage” (NKJV) or “be strong and courageous” (NIV) because “the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; see also Joshua 1:9). The same reassurance was given to Solomon and countless other servants of God throughout the Bible (1 Chronicles 22:13; 2 Samuel 10:12; Acts 23:11). We should be of good courage because the Lord is with us. He is our security: “You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (Proverbs 3:25–26, NLT).
God uses times of suffering to strengthen and refine us (2 Corinthians 4:7–12; Psalm 66:10). The apostle Paul encouraged believers who were enduring hardship not to lose heart: “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17, ESV). In every situation, we can be sure that God is working out His purposes for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
Jesus taught the disciples that it’s possible to have courage and peace amid trials and sorrows by abiding in Him: “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33, HCSB). In Jesus Christ, we have peace (John 14:27). The world may hate us, but Jesus Christ has overcome the world. Believers are “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We are God’s children, and “everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4; see also 1 John 2:13–14).
We should be of good courage because God is our protector and defender (Psalm 46:1). We don’t have to be afraid because we are secure in the Father’s love (1 John 4:18). When God is for us, nothing can stand against us (Romans 8:31), and nothing can separate us from His great love (Romans 8:35–39).
What is the worst that the world can throw at us? The apostle Paul said that, even if “the earthly tent we live in is destroyed”—even if we die—“we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1). We should be of good courage because eternal life in heaven awaits those who are in Jesus Christ (John 17:3; 1 John 2:24–25; 5:20).