This verse is more familiar to me in the New International Version of the Bible, where it is translated: ‘Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.’ However, reading it recently in the New King James Version, I was struck by the three aspects contained in that translation - firstly the command to be of good courage; secondly the promise that follows this, that God will then strengthen our hearts; and thirdly the reminder that this is for those whose hope is in the Lord.
The first part is a command to be of good courage, or to be strong and courageous. We hear this quite frequently in Scripture, for example when God is commissioning Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land (Joshua 1:6 & 9). It implies that we have a choice to make and that it is our decision in each circumstance. If we are facing a difficult situation, it is easy to be overcome by fear, or to slip into helplessness and self-pity, taking our eyes off the Lord, but at these times we have a choice. We can either decide to be strong in the Lord, fixing our eyes on Him and focusing on the hope that we have in Him, or we can allow the situation to overwhelm us.
The promise in the second part of the verse is that, as we make the choice to be of good courage, God will come with all His power to strengthen our hearts. This seems to encapsulate the balance between our responsibility and what God wants to do for us. Sometimes we can be waiting for God to break through for us, when it is up to us to exercise our will first. As we decide to be of good courage and to put our hope in the Lord, He will then come and give us the strength we need.
If you are going through a difficult time at the moment, can I encourage you to do as this scripture commands: ‘Be of good courage!’ Don’t be overwhelmed by the circumstances, but keep your focus firmly on the hope that we have in the Lord. Then He will strengthen your heart, because that is what He has promised to do. I can personally testify to this.
Prayer: Lord, I am sorry for allowing circumstances to overwhelm me. I choose now to be of good courage and to put my hope in You. Please come and strengthen my heart today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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