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Be strong and have courage

Reading the Old Testament is an adventure. A common thread is the constant call to have courage.

To Joshua, the Lord said, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

One of my favorite scripture stories is that of Esther. As queen, she held tremendous influence over her husband the king. When Esther risked her life to help her people, she was encouraged: “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

How do we increase our courage? How can we prepare for these difficult decision points?

Esther knew one answer: “Fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days.” (4:16) It is a seemingly strange contradiction that going without food or water, while weakening our physical body, brings spiritual strength to our souls.

Fortified by the faith of her friends, Esther was able to approach the king to do her duty regardless of the outcome, saying courageously, “If I perish, I perish.” (4:16)

Our courage can be manifested in the righteous choices we make each day. Thomas S. Monson, former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught: “The call for courage comes constantly to each of us. Every day of our lives, courage is needed — not just for the momentous events but more often as we make decisions or respond to circumstances around us.”

Regardless of the trials we face, the Lord has promised that we will never be alone.

When we are on the Lord’s side, unseen angels stand with us. When surrounded by enemy forces, the prophet Elisha said, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Spiritual perspective revealed that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17)

As we steadfastly live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will find that we are not always popular, and doing the right thing can be challenging.

President Monson further taught, “Inner courage also includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid, defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status. He who stands steadfastly for that which is right must risk becoming at times disapproved and unpopular.”

As we put God first in our lives and commit to follow Him, remember the Lord’s promise: “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)

We don’t have to save ourselves, and in fact we cannot. Through the enabling power of God’s grace, available to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can meet and rise above all life’s challenges.

DR. BRENT ROBERTS is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@hotmail.com.