Be of Good Courage

Last week was exceedingly discouraging.  We had been praying about a particularly painful trial, asking the Lord to spare us from walking through it, but instead received notification that we will be required to walk through it.  The weight of the impending holidays was already upon us, Thanksgiving, Sarah’s birthday and then Christmas.  A painful series of “seconds without Sarah” about to fall like a line of dominoes, and now we add this additional heavy trial behind those.  As we were still staggering from the news of the trial, our adversary saw our dismay and opportunistically pounced with a barrage of smaller emotionally depleting schemes (2 Cor. 2:11).

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For indeed in this [house] we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,  inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.  For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 [NASB]

Weary, battle worn and greatly discouraged I opened the Word to bask in it.  2 Corinthians 5 was the next chapter in my daily reading.  I’ve meditated on verses 1-4 (above) multiple times since the accident and I found comfort in them once again.  Prior to Sarah’s departure I did not fully relate to the groaning Paul speaks of, but now I deeply understand as my soul continually groans with longing.  I long to be liberated from my own sin and fallenness, from the painful impacts and consequences of the sins of others, and from the fallenness of the world about us.  Oh how I desperately long to be swallowed up by life.

In retrospect, I had previously been so captivated by verses 1-4 that I had failed to absorb the verses that follow.  This week was different, though.  Against the backdrop of my discouragement I was immediately struck by the statement that we are “of good courage” repeated twice in verses 5-8 (below).

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.  Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–  for we walk by faith, not by sight–  we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.  2 Corinthians 5:5-8 [NASB]

Be of good courage: God has prepared us for this very purpose 

“Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.” 2 Corinthians 5:5 [NASB]

We are strengthened to be of good courage by knowing God has prepared us for this very purpose.  God has prepared us to be “clothed with our dwelling from heaven.”  God has prepared us to wait expectantly for eternity.  It is good and right to groan with longing to be liberated from the temporal and clothed with the eternal.  This longing for eternity is not a sinful lack of contentment, but an appropriate longing for the fulfillment of the promises of grace He has prepared for us.

God has also prepared us through His gift of the Holy Spirit as a pledge.  Through the teaching of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are strengthened to be of good courage. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a precious foretaste of abiding in His presence.  We now hear His voice but one day, in just a little while, we shall behold our Savior and God face to face (Heb. 10:37; Rev. 22:3-4).

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  John 14:26 [NASB]

Be of good courage: We walk by faith not by sight

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–  for we walk by faith, not by sight–“ 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 [NASB]

I can’t see God’s hand in the midst of this specific trial.  I can’t see how He will deliver, vindicate, sustain and heal in the coming months.  I am strengthened to be of good courage by Paul’s reminder that we walk by faith and not by sight.  I can’t see how He will do it, but I know that He who has promised is faithful and in His time He will accomplish all He has promised.

The same Greek word tharreō, translated as “good courage” in 2 Corinthians 5, is translated “confidently” in Hebrews 13:6 (below).   Because He has promised He will never leave me nor forsake me I am of good courage to say with Paul, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear;  what can man do to me?”

“… for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5b-6 [ESV]

Be of good courage: This is not our Home

“we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 [NASB]

I am so thankful we are repeatedly reminded throughout scripture that this world is not our home.  We are strengthened to be of good courage in the midst of our temporal suffering by the reminder that our preference as believers is to be absent from the body and to be at Home with the Lord.  In recognizing the brevity of this temporal life we are strengthened with good courage to live the remainder of our days urgently and fruitfully for Him.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  But if [I am] to live [on] in the flesh, this [will mean] fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both [directions,] having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better;  yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,” Philippians 1:21-25 [NASB]

Be of good courage: Our sole ambition is to be pleasing to Him

“Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:9 [NASB]

What tremendous encouragement I found in this reminder that my sole ambition is to be pleasing to Him.  In the midst of my discouragement I had allowed my attention to shift to pleasing men.  I was wrongly allowing their approval and disapproval to affect my courage.  Reading this verse the Holy Spirit brought to memory Paul’s words to the Galatians, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 [NASB]).

“Suffer hardship with [me,] as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4 [NASB]

Such blessed encouragement to be reminded the only One whom I am striving to please is the very One who sees and knows my heart.  He is “compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. … For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:8, 14 [NASB]).

I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness to speak through His Word.  With compassionate lovingkindness He spoke to my discouraged heart not once, but twice, “be of good courage.” He gently reminded me that He has prepared me for eternity, to be swallowed up by life, and to fix my hope completely on that.  Though I can not see the way before me, I am of good courage as I am reminded I am walking by faith and not by sight.  And above all, I praise God that this is not my home and my only responsibility, my sole ambition, is to please Him and no other.  Hallelujah!  Come, Lord Jesus!

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 [NASB]

‘So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’  And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’  But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39 [NIV]


Artwork: Sarah Harmening

11 thoughts on “Be of Good Courage

  1. Another thoughtful post, thank you. I totally understand what you’re saying and believe it. The trouble I have is this: I know this in my head, but it’s superman hard to move it to my obliterated heart. Hugs.

    1. So true, Roger. And then if I manage to get it in to my heart, keeping it in my heart is yet another battle! And so we groan all the more with longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven! ❤

  2. Oh, Karen, so deeply sorry that you and Scott are facing this difficult trial you have prayed that God would spare you from. Indeed, be of good courage, He is with you always. Be confident, this is not your home-your home and Sarah await you. Be encouraged, for you live to please Him who delights in you. May these truths that He has shown you be your strength and help in the days ahead.

  3. Hi, Karen! I am so sorry to hear about your discouraging week. I know the holidays and Sarah’s birthday will also be a difficult time missing your sweet girl, know I will be praying for strength for you. Thank you for the encouragement below, you are amazing! Much love, Amanda

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  4. Know you are loved. I have no thoughts to offer for I am of little help right now. I pray for each of you as I know you are praying for me as we enter this season fast upon us. Life goes on. I took up trays and plates last night after our church’s Thanksgiving dinner. I find I must be busy and doing something useful for someone else. You are right, reading from His Word is the best medicine. I am also reading one of Buddy’s favorite books. What you are doing is so important to those of us who read of your continuing journey, Karen. I pray for sweet memories for each of you and for abiding love between each of you as you face another series of holidays and special events. My emotions have been all over the place, but I keep coming back to Buddy’s Bible and reading and looking for the things he felt to be important. I am so thankful for his abiding faith and love of reading his Bible. I am so glad you and Scott have each other. That is a monumental blessing. Love and peace to each of you as you move forward into this hard season that for many will be joy. I pray each of us will be able to find little joys that will help ease the discomforts we imagine will find us and that those little joys with blot of the sadness we fear will overshadow our days.

  5. I’m so sorry for all that you are enduring. One thing I have learned on this path of child loss is this: our grief makes the trials seem harder and additional trials make our grief feel harder to bear. Lifting you up in prayer. 🙏

  6. Your post is very timely for me as I have also just received very difficult news to add to the trials that I am already experiencing.

    I want to share something about courage from someone who has been ministering to me. She pointed out that God didn’t tell Joshua to be courageous going into the Promised Land because the challenge before him wasn’t hard. God also didn’t tell Joshua to have courage because he was strong from his years in the wilderness. God did say: “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5); that is where the strength comes from.

    I am finding comfort from knowing that whatever happens, God will be with me until the very end (Matthew 28:20)

    1. Amen! So true, Kim! I was meditating on Colossians 1:11 yesterday, “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience…” I’m so thankful that it His glorious might in me that strengthens my failing knees to stand and raises my trembling hands to Him.
      I am so sorry you are in a season of trials as well, I am lifting you up now, praying that very passage over you.
      May you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Colossians 1:9-12 ❤

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