Intentional gratitude is always top-of-mind this time of year, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching. With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s often easy to forget that expressing gratitude applies to all seasons of our lives. As believers, we are called to be grateful in all situations and to live with the joy of the Lord.
How often do we let fear control our lives? Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown? As humans, it’s practically impossible to live and never experience some form of fear, especially when the world throws new challenges our way every single day.
So, how do we fight against the often inescapable feeling of fear? We use God-granted courage, the very enemy of fear!
One challenge we are faced with daily as Christians is the temptation to follow the crowd rather than standing apart in our faith. Sometimes we forget: to be different takes courage.
In Genesis, we learn about a man named Noah, who is the final Character of Courage in our most recent blog series. In a time on Earth when people were utterly corrupt and living in sin, the Bible describes Noah as a blameless, righteous man who had a strong relationship with the Lord. (Genesis 6:9)
Noah had the courage to be different.
During this time, the Lord looked at Earth and “saw the wickedness of man was great… and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6) The situation of humankind was so displeasing to the Lord that He in His sovereignty, decided to completely wipe the evil away with a massive flood.
Since Noah found fulfilment in his Father rather than the world, he was set apart in the eyes of God. Noah wasn’t part of the crowd, and God acknowledged and rewarded his obedience by warning him of the flood and instructing him to build an ark for safety. Noah and his family would be safe from the flood—but first, they had to exhibit some insane courage.
Noah ventured into unknown territory to obey the Lord. Never before had he built a giant ship that would be his family’s entire livelihood. Really, no one had done this before at the Lord’s request, and we can imagine the ridicule from others who saw what Noah was doing. While Noah was honoring God’s instructions and completing one of the most important and difficult tasks of his life, he likely had to overcome the disapproval and sneers of those around him.
Noah labored day and night to ensure the ark was the perfect size, made of specific materials, with certain details and characteristics as directed by God.. Noah was also to bring with him two of every kind of animal, male and female, another task he completed just as the Lord commanded.
The Lord established a covenant with Noah. In Noah’s obedience, there was provision. (Genesis 9:9)
Once the ark was built and the animals were inside, it rained for forty days and forty nights. When the rains stopped and the water receded, Noah and his family were safe to leave the ark, because the Lord delivered them.
When we put ourselves in Noah’s shoes, we can only imagine the courage it took to be different and obey the Lord in the face of the unknown. Imagine the skepticism, criticism, and rejection Noah received from the people around him. Still, Noah didn’t let fear get in the way of what he knew to be right in his heart.
As humans, it’s natural for us to fear isolation or being set apart from the crowd. But in the Lord’s eyes, being different is a good thing. In Galatians 1:10, the Bible tells us not to work to win the approval of men, but to work to seek favor from God. And in Romans 8:30, we learn that God actually created us to be set apart from the world in order for us to draw closer to Him. As Christians, this is our calling—to let the noise of the world fall behind and create space for us to seek Jesus’ face.
Trust and obedience are easy words to say… but putting them in practice takes courage. Are you willing to risk being different to be obedient and experience the fullness of wholeheartedly following Jesus?