It’s so easy to give up in the face of impossible odds. For so much of my life, fear has stolen opportunities, blessings, and influence from me. How can we find the courage to keep going in impossible situations? We look for a miracle prayer for the impossible. And I encourage you to pray for courage, pray for power, but I also want you to know that God has already given you all you need for courage to keep going. What if we need only to pray that God would help us take hold of the courage we need to step out on faith in impossible odds?
Whether it is a relationship, a job, a business venture, a ministry, the enemy wants to keep us from reaching our potential for the glory of God. I say it all the time, but let me say it again. God wants to do great things for you and through you for His glory. When God’s blessing and favor cover us and we give Him credit, He is glorified. When we let fear keep us from trying or make us quit, how are we any different from the world? Fear can keep us from glorifying God with our life.
The Bible is full of people who are overcoming all the odds to accomplish the impossible. This is God’s plan for our life. It was Jesus who told the disciples that after they received the Holy Spirit, they would do even greater things than He did. Wow! Let that sink in for a minute. God wants to do miracles in your life. Today, I want to share an important principle to allow to God do miracles in your life.
POWER FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE IS ALREADY IN YOU
One of the greatest feats in Scripture is the toppling of the greatest nation on Earth by one man. In Old Testament times, Egypt was the most powerful nation in the world. Jacob’s sons had become jealous of their brother Joseph because he was their Dad’s favorite. They sold him into slavery. Then his new master’s wife accused him of making a pass at her and he was thrown into prison. It was there that other inmates began to have dreams and Joseph was given the power by God to interpret these dreams. Later, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had some disturbing dreams and none of his magicians could interpret the dream. A member of his court, who had been in prison, remembered Joseph. Joseph was able to interpret the dream letting Pharoah know of a seven-year drought that was coming. This knowledge helped Egypt store up supplies in advance so when the drought came, all the world came to Egypt to buy food and Egypt got super-rich and powerful.
400 years later, Joseph has long been forgotten. The nation of Egypt, still the dominant nation of the world thrived on the backs of Joseph’s ancestors. The nation of Israel was enslaved. It was this slave labor that allowed Egypt to keep building its wealth and power. Egypt did not worship the Lord. They worshiped many false gods and their religious practices were detestable to the Lord. It was during this time that Moses was born. He was the child of a Hebrew slave at a time when Pharaoh was having all male children born to slave women thrown into the Nile River to die.
Moses’s mother could have just given up. What could she do against Pharaoh and his army? It was a hopeless moment. But rather than giving up, she dared to do something against all odds. She made a waterproof basket using the mud of the Nile and placed baby Moses in this basket and set him afloat on the river.
It still seemed like an impossible situation. The Nile was full of all kinds of animals. The baby could have been ravished. The baby could have floated until it starved but she took a chance.
COURAGE REQUIRES RISK
We often think that God wants us to play it safe. And when we can’t see a successful ending, we choose to do nothing rather than risk failure. Jesus made it clear that faith in God is a risky business. In the parable of the talents, we see Christ teaching God’s desire that we would invest our talents, time, and treasure in faith that He will give us favor and increase. We do not take foolish risks, but rather than letting fear keep us from moving forward, we give it our best shot knowing we might fail. We start the business. We go ahead and forgive again. We give our tithes and offerings. We don’t quit but find a way to move forward. Faith in God never reveals the result of success or failure. Faith only reveals the next step. In every situation, do not let fear keep you from moving forward. You may not be able to see the whole path, but that’s ok. You only need faith for the next step.
Well, if you don’t know the story, the basket floated down the river and the water just happened to move it to the exact place where Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing that day. Hmmm…and who is it that moves the water? The baby’s older sister had followed alongside the basket to see what might happen. When she saw Pharaoh’s daughter take the baby in her arms, she volunteered to get one of the nursing slave women to feed the baby. Guess who she went and got. Yep, Moses’ mother got to hold her baby again. She never thought this was going to happen, but she was not willing to just give in an impossible situation.
PRAY FOR COURAGE FROM THE COURAGEOUSNESS OF OTHERS
This little girl shows incredible courage at this moment. Pharaoh’s daughter knew this was a Hebrew baby. So she also knew a Hebrew slave had disobeyed the order of Pharaoh. Moses’ sister, Miriam, took a huge risk that Pharaoh’s daughter would turn her in to get the name of this defiant slave woman who refused to drown her baby according to the royal edict. Where did this little girl get this incredible courage?
For three months, Miriam watched her mother hide this baby. Her mother did not know what to do, but she refused to give up. She risked her own life to save her baby. Every time someone would come near, she had to hide this baby and try to keep him quiet. She did not only have to do this when Egyptian soldiers came near but also when her people came near. Anyone might have turned her in and then they would have killed her whole family. Miriam watched the tense moments of hiding in small places trying to keep the baby quiet. She saw the worry and fear in her mother’s eyes. But more than anything, she saw the courage of her mother. And when the baby was too old to keep quiet, she saw the anguish as her mother put her baby in this basket and set him into the river full of alligators, hippos, and more. She was inspired by her mother’s courage. When the pivotal moment came to say something to make sure her brother was fed or left to die, she risked her life and her family’s life again to do something.
How many people around you have been brave by the grace of God to not give up, to not quit, to not throw in the towel so you could have a chance at something better. God put these people in our lives. Even if they were not God-fearing people, courage comes only from God. God helped them in their time of distress. They didn’t know what to do, but they did something. They did not have the answer, but they refused to accept the worst scenario. God has given these people to us not only to give us a chance but to inspire us to be strong and courageous as well.
I think of my parents and my mother-in-law. They each experienced a difficult life. They could have given up and become addicts, drunks, lazy, or taken their own life. But they fought to move forward even when they couldn’t see which direction was forward. They have given my wife and me courage. We too have been through some nightmarish days, but we found the courage to not give up, to not divorce, to not fall deep into selfishness. We hope that our courage to fight through these times has given our children an opportunity to go further just as the courage of our parents gave us this opportunity.
Their courage helped Moses to do more. He was called by God to overthrow the most powerful nation in the world. He grew up in the palace experiencing the most privileged life in that culture. But he knew his people suffered and his heart went out to them. But how could he, just one man, the child of a slave, rescue millions of people from a nation built on their slave labor?
He didn’t know what to do, but he had to do something. We saw one of his people being beaten severely by their slave-master. He intervened and killed the slave-master. He never set out to kill anyone, but the pressure to do something without knowing what to do led to pent-up frustration then murder. His crime became known and the punishment was death. He lost courage and fled. He abandoned his calling. He abandoned the task before him and ran out into the desert entering into a safe life as a shepherd. He did his best to forget the pressure of doing something. He gave up. But God never gave up on Him.
One day he sees a burning bush not being consumed. Intrigued, he moves closer and God speaks to Him. “Take off your shoes for you are standing on holy ground,” God says to Moses. The Lord renews the task requiring courage and great risk. God commands him to leave the safe life back to Egypt as one man to bring down an entire nation.
PRAY FOR COURAGE FROM THE HOLINESS OF GOD
Before God sends Moses back into harm’s way, He reminds Moses that He is holy. Holiness is the character of God to always do what is right. We don’t always understand what is right, but if we will remember that God is holy and God is also love. He is both. These two terms do not contradict one another. God does what is right based on love. Love is both an affectionate emotion and a beneficent behavior. God’s heart is always drawn to us and out of this love, He is going to do whatever is going to benefit us. What we want or desire is not always going to be a benefit. You may want a million dollars, but if God knows this money will corrupt your heart and make you arrogant or give you more resources to make bad decisions, He is not going to give you the money. Love is doing what is going to benefit a person and all benefits begin and end in the presence of God. God will always do for you and call you to do that which is going to move you closer to Him. So God says to Moses, “Find the courage to face the impossible.”
It is the impossible moments of life that God uses to draw us to Him. I am reminded of a movie that came out just a few years ago called The Upside. It is based on the true story of a wealthy wheelchair man who has given up on life and his assistant in a similar situation. They were both facing impossible tasks. One had lost hope after losing his wife and ability to walk in an accident. The other man had given up on life because of failure after failure. They both embarked on this impossible task of moving forward. They needed one another and each one helped the other. We are drawn to those people we lean on when we are helpless. As they help us with each step, our hearts become one. If we never had impossible moments, we would never cry out to God. We would never draw near to Him. All that He is would be lost to us. We need the impossible moments to push us back into the arms of God and there we find the courage to keep going.
God’s holiness and love give us confidence that even if we try and fail, He will be there for us. He will not abandon us. And even if we fail, somehow, he will redeem our efforts and create a new opportunity for success, but now with more wisdom of what will not work.
Peter could have stayed in the boat, but he dared to do the impossible and he stepped onto the water and started walking to Jesus. After doing the impossible then he failed. He took his eyes off God and sunk into the stormy waters. But then what happened? How did Jesus respond to Peter’s failure? He grabbed him by the arm and they walked together back to the boat. What!!!! Even in his failure, the love of God would abandon Peter. He gave Peter another chance and this time helped him and with Christ, Peter did what was impossible. This only happened because he found the courage to attempt the impossible.
Ok, back to Moses. God, through the burning bush, tells him to go back to tell Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go. Moses is struggling to find courage. He says to God, “What if people do not believe that I have been sent by God?” He was afraid that when he showed up, people were just going to laugh at him, not listen, and throw him out to pasture. But I love God’s answer to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” Now, God sees everything. This is not a question of confusion on God’s part. He is drawing Moses’ attention to the staff in his hands. God tells Moses to throw down the staff and it becomes a snake. He tells Moses to pick up the snake and after seeing this miracle finds the courage to grab the snake. After he grabs it, the snake is transformed back into a wooden staff.
This staff was a sign of the failure. Moses never had a staff growing up in the palace in Egypt. He only acquired a staff when he had given up and became a shepherd. For forty years, he lived in the desert using his staff to care for the sheep. Now, this staff is the key to accomplishing the impossible.
PRAY FOR COURAGE FROM YOUR FAILURES
God was teaching Moses that the past forty years were not worthless, but there were some things he had learned in his failure that would ensure his victory. Moses was able to lead the Hebrews in the desert for forty years because he had learned the patience of a shepherd. He had learned to face wild animals to protect the flock. He had learned to face the ravenous wolf eye to eye and defeat it. Now, he will go into the palace and face a greater wolf, but his failure provided opportunities to increase his courage. God had helped him as a shepherd. Now, God will help him rescue the people of God.
More than this, this staff would turn to a snake gives us a prophetic word. After bringing the people out of Egypt, they rebel. One consequence God allows to come upon them because of their rebellion was a brood of poisonous snakes. The snakes killed many people and the people went to Moses for help. God instructed Moses to make a snake made of bronze and to place it up on a pole so that anyone who is bitten by a snake could turn their eyes to this bronze snake and they would live.
Jesus would draw on this narrative and compare Himself to this bronze snake saying, ‘Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.” Moses had power over the snake through the wooden staff. Jesus would exert power over the devil, the Ancient Serpent, through the wooden cross. Now, we have power over the enemy by the power of that same cross.
PRAY FOR COURAGE FROM THE CROSS
There are only two powers in this world. There is God’s power and all other power. For a time of testing, the Lord has given Satan authority over all power set against God. It is the power of Satan that comes against us in a spirit of fear. He opens our eyes and our heart to all of the obstacles and impossibilities. He paints everything dark without hope. He reminds us of our insufficiencies. You’re not smart enough. You’re not educated enough. Nobody likes you. You are never going to amount to anything. God won’t help you because of all the sin in your life. But I need to tell you today that through the cross, you have authority over the devil. You have the power to take him by the tail and toss him out of your life. You have the authority to stomp on his head. Because the enemy has been defeated, every power that would work to cause your failure has also been defeated. You need only to take hold of the power given to you by God and remind the devil he was defeated on that old rugged cross.
We don’t have a literal snake to grab by the tail so that it will turn again into the wooden staff. But we can bring Satan back to the cross, the place of his defeat. When we bring Satan back to the cross, he shrinks back. Get thee behind me is our command to the fallen angel. God calls us to resist the devil and when we do, the law of God says He MUST flee. He will return, but every time he comes back to discourage you pick him up by the tail and take him back to that wooden cross and let him see the perfect blood that was shed for you to have victory over fear. For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Moses would go to Pharaoh and God would work through him to do miracles. Moses would call for the water to be turned to blood and the water turned. He would call for darkness and not even a candle could be lit. He would call for frogs and they would invade. With each command declared in faith honored by God, Moses was encouraged. By faith, He did what
God told him to do and God did not disappoint. His fear melted into great courage. This courage carried him through to victory. And when Pharaoh finally let them leave, then changed his mind, and chased them down, Moses did not lose courage. They were trapped on every side by mountains and water and they could hear the chariots coming. The people gave up in fear. Their anger burned at Moses. They were already convinced they would die that day. But Moses took courage to have faith and he raised that wooden staff and the wind began to blow. The waters receded and God made a way for all of them to cross over on a dry riverbed with monumental walls of water on either side of them.
PRAY FOR COURAGE TO ACT IN FAITH
When we don’t have courage, if we will step out in faith, God will answer. Faith is not the absence of fear, it is obedience despite the fear. I don’t know what you may be facing today, but the spirit of fear has flooded the world this past year. And fear is one of the devil’s favorite tools against us. But if you will not shrink back, but keep moving forward even if you can only see the next step, even if you don’t know if it is the right step, God will show up. He will help you do what can’t be done. And even if you mess it up like Moses, don’t give up, but let God teach you what you need for the next opportunity. Faith is your victory. Your faith will prove the faithfulness of God. His faithfulness will give you the courage to keep going when everyone else gives up.