In the movie “McFarland,” the coach watched his team compete in its first cross-country meet. Although the team started well, the hills of the terrain wore them down and they finished the meet in last place. The following week in practice, the coach took his team to a farm where there were small but steep crop hills. He blew his whistle and sent his team to run up and down these man-made mounds for the entire practice. He desired for his team to grow in both strength and courage. Coach knew that if his team were to become stronger, then they needed to train in the area of weakness. Although his runners did not see the purpose during those hot grueling practices, by the end of the season, they became state champions.

We do not have the ability to decide to be strong in a moment’s notice. Strength is attained as a result of prior discipline and perseverance. On the flip side, courage requires people to press forward even though the result is not within their own control. Courage needs to be grounded in one’s faith.

Just as God commissioned Joshua to lead the Israelites, both strength and courage were required. Physical battles and spiritual attacks will come as we, too, live out the plans God has prepared for our lives. Strength and courage combined will enable us to be victorious physically, mentally, and spiritually.

John Mark Caton, Ph.D