A Heart of Courage
Encouragement is an important subject. Paul frequently spoke of encouraging others and of receiving encouragement. A believer in the early church named Joseph, was actually nicknamed Barnabas by his fellow believers - which means “son of encouragement” - because of his encouraging heart and nature (Acts 4:36). Moses was twice told by God to encourage Joshua regarding his future ministry (Deuteronomy 1:38 and 3:28).
The thought we normally have when hearing the word “encouragement” is picking up the spirit of someone who may be hurting or struggling, bringing motivation to press on, or perhaps giving a compliment to a person that might cause him or her to feel good about themselves or their performance. These aspects of encouragement are good and significant. The deeper meaning of this word, however, is even more significant.
In its etymology, the word [encouragement] literally means “to put in courage.”(1) The “courage” portion actually comes from the Latin word for heart.(2) Think about that: Courage is a force that originates in the heart. Emotions will fail you in times of crisis or trouble; the mind, invaded by numerous scenarios and “what ifs,” will often flounder in times of uncertainty, fear, and indecision. “Heart courage” is the only safe source of strength in times of trouble.
David said, “My heart is fixed,” meaning that it was immovable. (Psalms 57:7 and 108:1). In Psalm 112:7, he stated about one who fears the Lord and delights in His commandments: “He will not fear bad news; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is firm, he will not fear, But will look with satisfaction on his enemies” (NASB). Courage emanating from the heart will never fail you. And to think we can actually put this courage into the heart of another with our words - incredible!
The Greek word translated as “encourage” (also translated “comfort”), is parakaleo.(3) Interestingly, in one of its different forms (Paraclete), it is used as a name of Holy Spirit, usually translated as “Comforter” or “Helper.” Holy Spirit doesn’t simply want to give us pep talks to lift our emotions, He wants to put an immovable force of strength into our hearts, our “courage center!” And He often wants to use us to do so. Holy Spirit “...comforts (parakaleo) us in all our affliction, so that we will be able to comfort (parakaleo) those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NASB). Amazing! Holy Spirit wants to strengthen the hearts of others through us!
Our freedom today may, in part, be due to a 20th-century “Barnabas.” Winston Churchill didn’t look like much of a fighter, but he was one of the Allied Forces’ greatest warriors during WW2. He fought with his words, giving heart to Britain when the odds against them seemed impossible to overcome. At times, it seemed all they had left was heart. Here are a couple of examples:
“THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN was raging. Every resource of Fighter
Command was engaged in defense against the attacking Luftwaffe. On August 20, Winston Churchill reassured his countrymen. In the speech, he coined the phrase ‘the few’ to refer to the fighter pilots of the RAF (Royal Air Force), a phrase that would stick:
‘The great air battle which has been in progress over this Island for the last few weeks has recently attained a high intensity. It is too soon to attempt to assign limits either to its scale or to its duration. We must certainly expect that greater efforts will be made by the enemy than any he has so far put forth.
‘The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’”(4)
Another example of Churchill putting courage into the hearts of his people was through the following:
“DURING THE DARKEST days of the war, there was trouble in England's coal mines. Workers were leaving the mines to enlist in the army. Many young men wanted to be fighting in the front lines, not digging coal out of the ground, and coal production was in jeopardy when the nation needed it most. Winston Churchill went to the mines to deliver a speech and to give the miners a vision of the future.
“His words pictured for them what would take place when the Nazis were beaten, and the war was over. He said there would be a great parade honoring all who sacrificed for victory. First, there would be the Royal Navy sailors who had battled Hitler at sea. Then would come the Royal Air Force pilots who had fought the Luftwaffe in the skies. Then would come the Royal Army soldiers who had fought at Dunkirk. Last of all would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner's caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, ‘Where were you during the dark days of our struggle?’ And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, ‘We were deep in the earth, with our faces to the coal.’(5)
“Churchill's words penetrated their hearts. With tear-streaked faces, the miners went back to work with the firm belief that every piece of coal they brought out of the earth was vital to the survival of their nation. They knew that their work might be mundane and seem unglamorous, but it was necessary to the larger cause.”(6)
Put courage in someone you know today. “Lay hands on” their heart with your words and impart to them strength and fortitude. Tell them they are strong in Christ! Tell them they have great value and are needed! Tell them they are more than a conqueror through Christ who loves them, and that the greatest power in the universe dwells in them through Holy Spirit! Tell them their feet are on a solid rock, which will never crumble!
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.”(7)
Pray with me:
Father, thank You for sending the great heart doctor, Holy Spirit. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for infusing strength into us, making us steadfast and immovable. Through You, we have “heart courage!” And thank You, Jesus, for transforming our hearts, and being our Rock.
As we “put our faces to the coal,” motivate your Ekklesia to walk in “Barnabas anointings.” Remind us that we can put courage into the hearts of our brothers and sisters as we war for the soul of our nation. Encourage them to encourage others.
We declare today that with Your strength, we will not yield to the forces of darkness in the world. We will not grow weary in our well-doing, our prayers, and decrees. We mount up with wings like eagles - running without getting tired, walking without fainting. Your strength empowers us, Your wind lifts us. We are like trees planted by water; our roots are deep and strong. With hearts like David, we run to the battle. With vision like Caleb, we ask for our mountain. With faith like Abraham, we hope when it seems there is none, and believe in the face of the impossible. With determination like Paul, we press toward the mark. We are “of God” and will overcome the forces of darkness. In Christ’s name and authority, Amen.
We decree that we have heart, and will persevere in every situation.
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James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), ref. no. 3870.
Larkin Spivey, Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II, (AMG Publishers: Chattanooga, TN), p. 38 and The Churchill Centre, www.winstonchurchill.org.
Larkin Spivey, Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II, (AMG Publishers: Chattanooga, TN), p. 259.