Courage in the Lord

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. . . .

". . . If God be for us, who can be against us?"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . .

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:28, 31, 35, 37-39.)

Through the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know that the Lord has placed us here on earth for our own good. And we know we are here so that we might have joy. (2 Ne. 2:25.) Too many allow fear to block access to that intended joy.

Some are heavy-duty fears. We might fear we'll be annihilated through nuclear war, or endure physical harm at the hands of those who might hurt us. We might be afraid we'll starve if famine sweeps the earth.

Some fears are rooted in social concerns, such as being afraid we won't be accepted by a certain group, or that we'll be ridiculed because we espouse different standards.

Some are afraid there won't be enough room, or enough food, or enough resources in the future to support a growing world population.

In the eternal perspective, our fears are unfounded. As we understand that the Lord is not bound by finite knowledge and that He truly is the Creator, we will realize He has provided ways and means for us to fulfill the measure of our creation. We will know everything does "work together for good."

It goes without saying that many of life's circumstances are hard, even harsh and cruel, painful and destructive. There is evil in the world. Satan's purpose is to confound the Lord's work, and in pursuing his evil designs, the adversary is the source of much suffering, heartache and discontent. At times, it seems as though the forces of evil outnumber the forces of good. But we can derive courage in knowing it doesn't matter how many are against us if the Lord is for us.

The number on the other side isn't what matters, as is illustrated in the story of Gideon, who rescued his people in ancient Israel from a seven-year oppression by the armies and allies of the Midianites. The enemy's army was numerous as "grasshoppers" and had "camels without number, as the sand by the sea side." Gideon raised an army of 32,000, but he was commanded to proclaim:

"Whosoever is fearful and afraid let him return. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand." (Judges 7:3.)

Of those courageous souls who remained, only 300 were permitted by the Lord to go against the Midianites. With his small army and with great courage in the Lord, Gideon defeated the enemy. One of the great lessons is that it was the Lord - not the size of Gideon's army - from which came the strength to win that battle.

We remember also the story of Elisha, how the enemy "came by night, and compassed the city about." When his young manservant saw in the morning the multitude of the enemy, he cried out to Elisha, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" Elisha answered, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."

Then, in one of the most thrilling passages of military action, we are told Elisha prayed that the young man's eyes would be opened so that he could see "the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire" sent for their defense. (2 Kings 6:14-17.)

Quite often, the help the Lord provides cannot be seen with the natural eye, yet it is as real, and is more powerful than any of the enemy's forces. Weak though we may feel, we can accomplish mighty feats when the Lord is on our side - or when we are on the Lord's side.

Paul declared to the Romans that nothing - including trials, natural disasters and war - could separate the people from the love of Christ. He said the Savior's love transcends everything.

If we have any fear, it ought to be that we could, through sin, remove ourselves from the influence of God's love. Only we can direct our feet in paths away from Him. While He will never cease loving us, we can deprive ourselves of the benefits of His love if we turn away from Him. Nothing and no one else can cause us to lose the prize. But if, because of our worldly fears, we pledge our allegiance with the forces of the enemy through sin, we lose everything.

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