As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. 24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— 25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,
‘Why were the nations so angry?
Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah.’
27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. 29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” – Acts 3:23-30
Perhaps you recall Dan Rather’s final news broadcast. He ended it with a brief commentary on his approach to newscasting and then offered a final word: Courage. I believe he was referring to the need he perceived to continue to report the news that was unfavorable to a particular President, for which he got fired. It seems he had misreported some details in that regard.
This isn’t about Dan Rather, or a particular President. This is about courage. Where it comes from. Why we need it. How we exercise it. What we might expect if we do engage it in service to the truth of Jesus.
Courage is not something we gin up on our own, although there is a willfulness and deep-from-within aspect to courageous stances and actions. Courage is something that we gain based on deep convictions about what is good, true, and worthy of our risking. “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” So says Dorothy Bernard, the silent film actress. C. S. Lewis puts it well. He says,
Courage is not simply one of the virtues , but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
Perhaps it should not surprise me that after they were arrested, threatened, and released, Peter and John return to this disciples with renewed enthusiasm, and deeper commitment (courage) to continue to speak in Jesus’ name to continue to bring more people to faith in Jesus.
This is literally fear that has said its prayers. They prayed for boldness. They prayed for vindication from God. They prayed for the truth of Jesus to be made known through miraculous signs and wonders. They weren’t going back.
There are times we must simply stand on truth, conviction and righteousness. There are times when we must stand up to threats. There are times when the bully needs to be faced-down. When those times come, pray. Ask God for boldness, courage, grace, and clarity.
It would be a bad thing to bluster about things that are not true. It is even worse to cower in the face of challenge to things that are true and worthy of bold witness. Give me boldness, O God!