Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:6-9
Be strong and courageous. Three times this command is spoken by the LORD to Joshua. But why? It might help to look at his circumstances to understand what God commands, why He commands it, and how good God is in Joshua’s life.
Moses, the great deliverer of Israel, Joshua’s mentor and friend, who walked by Joshua’s side for 40 years through the punishment of the wilderness, is dead. The time to enter the Promised Land has finally come and the mantle of leadership has been passed to Joshua. A million people are now under his care. The land is a land Joshua has never fully seen; flowing with milk, honey…and enemies. This conquest would not be a cakewalk. This was, after all, the land of giants. There was much work to be done, many people to fight, and it will take more strength than Joshua possesses. In the midst of all this turmoil and angst, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous, not in and of himself, but in the Lord’s power.
Joshua was essentially being commanded to be at peace. God knew the task would be difficult, even at times impossible. But God promised Joshua His presence. Joshua had nothing to fear. As God was with Moses, so God would be with Joshua.
Right now we are facing some scary things as a society. The current pandemic, failing economy, raging wildfires and uncertainty around our elections has set many on edge. But in the midst of such upheaval and pandemonium we can be strong and courageous like Joshua, knowing and experiencing God’s peace right now in the moment that we need it. God has promised to walk with us through the fire and through the flood. We can face the future, no matter who sits in the White House, how this pandemic or economy turns, or how bad the blazes rage, knowing God is and always will be on His throne. He sees, hears, cares for, and loves us. We are commanded to have strength and courage too,
Take something heavy from around your house and lift it up. Do the same with a light object. Use them remember that no matter the weight of the burden, God is lifting it with you and giving you the strength and courage to do so. This week, consider reading Psalm 68 to remind your heart that God is with you every step of the journey.
By Sheila Rennau