Do you feel brave, or wish you could be more brave? I know I do. Bravery is the inner confidence and boldness that helps us to face our difficulties. It’s something that we admire, but don’t even realize we have at times.
There’s one woman whose bravery inspires me. Her name was Jael. You may have never heard of her, so I’ll tell you a little bit about her story. If you’d like to read it for yourself, it’s in the Bible in the book of Judges, chapter 4.
During Jael’s time, the children of Israel were oppressed by a cruel man named Sisera and his army. The oppression was so bad that the children of Israel desperately cried out to God for help. As a matter of fact, he oppressed and defeated them for twenty long years. So that basically means that everyone who was under the age of twenty, they suffered through Sisera’s terror all of their life. They didn’t even know what life was like free and apart from his oppression, because they had never experienced it before.
Israel had a judge at that time whose name was Deborah. Deborah was also a prophetess, which meant she received special messages directly from God. One day, Deborah called Barak, the military commander of Israel’s army and told him that God wanted them to engage in battle with Sisera. She also told Barak that God was going to give them victory over Sisera and his army.
Imagine being bound by terror for years and years, and then one day finally hearing the word (from God) that you were about to be set free.
The children of Israel had been crying out to God for help, so no doubt they were probably waiting and hoping for the day that God would step in. This was the moment that they had been waiting for.
The children of Israel arrived for battle. Barak showed up with ten companies, and Sisera with nine hundred iron chariots! Now, I’m no expert Bible scholar, so I don’t know how many soldiers were in each of Barak’s ten companies, but just thinking about Sisera’s nine hundred chariots alone would have had me cringing in fear and running for my life. It sounds to me like Sisera had a whole lot more and was way stronger than Israel, or so they thought.
They went out to battle and just as it was foretold, Israel won. Not only that, Sisera’s entire army was killed! Sisera was the one who ran for his life, trying to escape Israel’s wrath. Searching for a safe place to hide, he ran into a tent – Jael’s tent.
Imagine for one moment, that Sisera rang your doorbell instead. The newly defeated famous army general who was being pursued. His name was number one on the most wanted list. The man who was talked about throughout the land – at your door seeking refuge. What would you have done? Me? I probably would’ve peeked out of my tent and then turned all of the lights off (or blew the candles out, since they didn’t have electricity back then, LOL). I would have acted like I wasn’t even home.
Jael didn’t do that. She actually welcomed him in, and covered him up with a blanket to make him more comfortable. When he asked for some water, she gave him milk instead, and then covered him with a blanket again. He felt safe, like his life was no longer in danger.
I’m pretty sure he was tired from battle and running for his life. The milk and blankets had an effect on him, and soon he was fast asleep. Her blankets must have been fleece, I just know it! Probably soft lamb fleece too. Anyway, back to the story.
After Sisera fell asleep, Jael killed him. When Barak, Israel’s military commander arrived, still pursuing Sisera – Jael was like, “I’ll show you where he is”. She led Barak to her tent where Sisera lay, dead.
After twenty long, hard years Israel was finally free from a cruel ruler because of her bravery.
To be brave is to be strong, confident, and bold to face the difficult things that make us afraid or intimidate us. Being brave doesn’t mean that you won’t be afraid. It means you push past the fear and face your challenges.
Sometimes our difficulties are so big and scary that it’s hard to be brave on our own. We can face fierce enemies for long periods of time, like when Israel was oppressed for twenty years. Even then, we’re not without help.
The Lord God is my strength, my source of courage, my invincible army; he has made my feet steady and sure like hinds feet and makes me walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places of challenge and responsibility. –Habakkuk 3:19 AMP
When we don’t have our own strength, God will be our strength! He will give us the courage to face whatever we need to face. Just like he was with Barak, Deborah, the army of Israel, and Jael – he will be with us too.
There have been many times in my life where I can look back and wonder how in the world I was able to face certain situations, because they were just too hard. I realize now that God was my strength, giving me courage when I should have fallen completely apart.
Whatever it is that you have to face, no matter how simple or complicated it seems, I hope you remember this story and realize that you aren’t fighting alone. God is with you. When your strength runs out, you can rely on his. When you should be stumbling back in fear, you will walk forward with steady steps and a sure heart, because you are brave.
What situations are you facing right now that require you to be brave? They could be anything like going to a doctor’s appointment, or giving a speech in class.
Jael’s story is one example of bravery. Who else’s story can you think of that encourages you to be brave?
Are there any times in your life where you saw your own bravery in action?
How can you encourage yourself to be brave, even when you’re afraid?