“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Athletes never want to be described as soft. It means they lack the physical toughness or mental tenacity their sport demands, which leads to folding under pressure or taking the path of least resistance. The same is true of soft Christians. Weak faith crumbles under the weight of our culture’s pressure to conform. But we’re not the first generation of believers to need strength and courage.
Throughout the Bible we see tenacious believers—men and women who endured cultural, political, and physical persecution in order to live out their faith. There’s an old saying that heroes aren’t born, they’re cornered. The truth in that statement applies to the spiritual realm as much as it does the physical. The writer of Hebrews reminded the early church of such heroes of faith.
“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:32-35).
These people were certainly not perfect but neither were they soft. Some had character flaws, blind spots, and public failures. Yet, they are included in God’s Hall of Faith, not because they were great people but because they became people of great faith.
You see, living by faith is more than belief in God’s existence. It’s believing and behaving as if everything God says is true—including what He says about Himself. Developing great faith requires overcoming obstacles, as well as facing our own shortcomings.
Are there huge challenges to being a Christian in the 21st century? Definitely! In the coming days, being followers of Jesus will require us to be strong and courageous. Just remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear—it’s doing the right thing even when we’re afraid. Being faithful has never meant having an easy life. Like those before us, we can face every obstacle with confidence because the Lord’s presence is with us wherever we go.