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  • Writer's pictureJen Stone-Sexton

Embracing Courage

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

When was the last time you embraced courage, faced fear, and stepped out of your comfort zone? Courage is a choice we make in order to take. Where in your life can you take courage?

So I took courage, since the hand of the Lord my God was on me,

and I gathered together out of Israel key men to go up with me.

Ezra 7:28b

At the time Ezra wrote this passage, the seventy years of Babylonian exile had ended and the king of Persia granted Ezra favor, money, and resources to rebuild. Ezra and his contemporaries Nehemiah and Z’rubavel were leading the people in rebuilding the house of God and repairing the walls in Jerusalem. In the process they were also being taunted and threatened by neighboring nations who did not want to see Jerusalem rebuilt. Ezra 4:4 says, “Then the people of the land began discouraging the people of Judah, in order to make them afraid to build.” (I recommend reading the short book of Ezra for the entire story and for context.)

Ezra’s response was to trust God and take courage. He took courage and acted. Throughout the Bible, we see that faith and courage is a choice. Just as giving into fear or discouragement is a choice. Which voice are you allowing to be the loudest? Is there an area in your life where you are afraid to build?

When was the last time you embraced courage, faced fear, and stepped out of your comfort zone? There is the everyday courage it takes to get out of bed in the morning and live our lives and then there is the kind of courage to go beyond what is familiar, predictable, and comfortable. The focus of this devotional is the courage it takes to expand your comfort zone.

One of the things in my coaching practice that comes up with every client is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of trying something new. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of pain. Fear of rejection. Fear of loss. Fear of just about anything that is perceived outside of what we think we can control. If you feel these fears, you are not alone.

Where in your life are you holding back because it’s just outside of your comfort zone? We all have a comfort zone and we will always have one. It’s not a matter of living outside of your comfort zone all of the time, that actually feels pretty stressful. Growth happens when we push just beyond our comfort zone and sit with the uncomfortable feelings.

Instead of trying to fix or find relief or run away from the discomfort, just acknowledge it and feel it. What you will find is that your comfort zone will expand. As your comfort zone expands, so does your world. So does your faith. So does your life. Is your comfort zone a backyard size or is it a vast Wyoming sky size? If you do this repeatedly – over time - you will find that your comfort zone has become more expansive.

If you retreat each time you come to the edge, your world and comfort zone will not expand. But if you lean in and get uncomfortable, then it will. The concept is similar to physical fitness. I’ve been practicing yoga as a form of fitness for over two decades and teaching for 12 of those years. A similar concept applies in yoga. While stretching into a posture, you can feel resistance and tension. We call that “coming to the edge.” Rather than push past the edge and hurt yourself, you come to the edge, respect the resistance and breathe into it. You breathe to find release and as you do, your body relaxes and you can go deeper.

My point is this: You don’t force yourself into feeling uncomfortable, facing your fear, and taking action. You respect the edge. Acknowledge it then lean in – instead of retreating. Breathe deeply and feel the resistance begin to soften.

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

Recently I attended my first ever writer's retreat. As I write this devotion, I'm in a 9-month writing masterclass. The retreat was near Atlanta and the conference was included with the class, or honestly, I might not have gone. That was enough incentive though to push past fear and register. Even though I've attend many conferences and events alone, I always feel a bit anxious about not knowing anyone as well as some apprehension mixed with excitement about going somewhere I have never been before. This conference was no exception.

Yet God graciously guided the timing for me and another woman who was attending and to meet upon arrival. We hit it off as kindred spirits and I am thankful to share a friendship with such an extraordinary woman! Had I let fear of the unknown or fear of discomfort prevent me from going, I would have missed out on incredible blessings, new friendships, and timely encouragement to persevere!

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.[ii] - Eleanor Roosevelt

According to the Oxford Dictionary, courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one” or “strength in the face of pain or grief.” Courage is also referred to as bravery or valor.

Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.”

The word courage comes from the Latin word, Cor, which means “heart.” I find it interesting that it also comes from the Old French word “corage” which also means “heart, innermost feelings; temper.” In addition the French word for “heart” or “center” is Coeur.

Our heart is at the center of courage. Of being courageous. Of all the commandments (613 of them) Jesus said the greatest was this: “Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.” - Deuteronomy 6:5 (emphasis mine.)

If God is at the center of our heart then we have the courage to go beyond what is comfortable, to breathe in the breath of Spirit, and bravely walk through fear. We are not called to a comfortable life but to a courageous life.

Will your footprints show where faith led you or where fear drove you?
Keith Kochner

Having courage, facing fear, walking in faith…all involve having knowledge and taking action. So I am not speaking here of being foolish or taking risks that are harmful or just plain stupid.

The Bible has much to say about courage, faith, and knowledge of God. Knowledge of who He is, His nature, character, Word, promises and trusting in Him. Just as with a person, if you don’t really know God, then it is nearly impossible to trust Him. And the converse is also true – the more intimately you know God, the more deeply and fully you trust Him.

As I was researching definitions of courage I came across an insightful article, 5 Powerful Principles About Courage in the Bible by Pastor Duke Tabor.[i] The key points are worth sharing here. What does God’s Word say about courage?

1. Courage comes from doing what is right.

For you will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the Lord gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart!

1 Chronicles 22:13 (NLT)

2. Courageous strength comes from waiting on God – to find out what His plan is instead of plowing headlong into what your plan is.

Wait on the Lord. Be courageous, and he will strengthen your heart. Wait on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14 (ISV)

3. Courage comes from hope in the Lord.

Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 (ISV)

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

4. Courage comes from having people around that encourage us.

Everyone helped his neighbor, And said to his brother, “Be of good courage!”

Isaiah 41:6 (NKJV)

And from there the brothers and sisters, when they heard about us, came as far as the Market of Appius and the Three Inns to meet us;

and when Paul saw them, thanked God and took courage.

Acts 28:15 (NASB)

5. Courage and bravery come from God.

"Be strong and courageous. Don’t fear or tremble before them, because the Lord your God will be the one who keeps on walking with you—he won’t leave you or abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

The common golden thread woven through each of these Scriptures is how our heart is linked with courage and how taking courage directs us back to God. The core or center of our life is our heart. Where is your heart? What is the condition of your heart? God is seeking out those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

The Lord’s eyes keep on roaming throughout the earth, looking for those whose hearts completely belong to him, so that he may strongly support them. 2 Chronicles 16:9a (ISV)

Courage is a choice you make in order to take. Here are a few questions to consider so that you can implement the truths of Scripture into your daily life:

  • Where in your life can you take courage?

  • What takes you out of your comfort zone?

  • Where can you trust God more in your life?

  • What fear(s) do you have to face and press through in order to move forward?

If you like this blog, read Letting Go of Control - Freedom in Surrender next!

Click HERE for Your Free Flourish Guide!

If you would like support with embracing courage, overcoming fear, and moving forward in our life I would love to come alongside you to help you achieve those results! To learn more, you can schedule HERE for a no-obligation Create a Life You Love Discovery Session.

Editor's Note:

This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.

Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All graphics created by Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All Rights Reserved.

(Accessed 5/24/2023) [ii] Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Inspiring Quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, (Accessed 5/25/2023) Scripture references from The Bible: International Standard Version (ISV) New American Standard Bible (NASB) New King James Version (NKJV) New Living Translation (NLT)

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