Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the choice to fight in the face of fear.

God has to train the newly freed people of Israel to choose trust in him over fear of their oppressors. In the immediate aftermath of their exodus, God makes an assessment. His people are not ready to fight.

Sometimes God leads us the longer way, to protect us and buy some time. To train and encourage us. To deepen our faith in him.

But the faith can only be postponed, not avoided. After years of training, the men of fighting age are still slaves to fear. At the end of Numbers, they are scared of the foes in The Promised Land and refuse the fight. For this, God holds them accountable. It is no longer time to postpone; it is time for them to make a choice – courage or fear.

We can’t outrun our fear. We cannot avoid difficult circumstances. We can postpone them, and sometimes God will delay for us. But we are called to stand our ground. Postponement is not an end; it is an opportunity to prepare for the inevitability of battle.

God brings the people of Israel along with patience. He does the same with us. But he does not keep us from courage, he empowers us to choose it.

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’”
– Exodus 13:17