At some point in our lives, we will probably encounter dangerous situations, and eventually we’ll all face death. Therefore, it’s important that we be prepared to respond with confidence and trust in God. As Christians we have a basis for courage that other people don’t have. No matter what happens, we know the Lord is always with us; He’s the source of our strength, and our ultimate destiny is heaven.
What exactly is courage? It is a quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to meet danger and death or face opposition or the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness, and firmness. It is doing what we are afraid to do. Courage is fear that has said its prayers; it is fear that holds on one more minute.
This is the type of courage the apostle Paul had, and the kind God wants all of us to possess. As His people, we have no reason to be afraid because He lives within us and will bring us through every situation—even death. At the end of his letter to Timothy, Paul gave his personal testimony, which reveals why he was willing to face suffering, danger, and death.
His Redemptive Experience on the Damascus Road
Earlier in his life, Paul, who was then called Saul, was a zealous persecutor of the church. Having received permission from the Jewish leaders to go to Damascus to imprison more believers, he was on his way when a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” and the voice answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (v. 5). This was the turning point in Paul’s life. He was converted from a vicious persecutor of the church to Christ’s appointed messenger of the gospel. Since he knew Jesus, Paul was now willing to suffer persecution and death in order to obey Him.
The Reward Awaiting Him After Death
“In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Since Paul had lived an obedient life, faithfully carrying out the ministry Christ had given him, he was confident that his death would not result in loss but in reward.
And the same is true for all of us who follow his example by fighting the good fight, finishing our course, and keeping the faith. In heaven, our works will be evaluated by God for the purpose of rewards. Since He is perfect and knows everything about us, we can trust that He will judge righteously. According to 1 Corinthians 3:11-17, our works will be tested by fire to reveal their true value. Those that burn up like wood, hay, and straw will not be worthy of a reward. However, those that are truly valuable will be like gold, silver, and precious stones that can withstand the fire. For these deeds we will be rewarded.
The Remembrance That God Was With Him
As Paul closed his last letter to Timothy, he recounted the hardships, mistreatments, and abandonment he’d endured as he neared the end of his life (2 Tim. 4:9-16). However, he concluded with these words: “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth” (v. 17). Paul knew that God was always with him no matter how people treated him or what dangerous situations he experienced. And God will be with you just the same when you follow Him. Therefore, take courage. No matter what situation you are in, you have the presence of the Lord to sustain you.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Courage to Face Danger and Death” which airs this weekend on TV.