“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 1:9
I don’t know about you, but there are not too many times in this life that I have felt “strong and courageous.” In fact, I often feel quite the opposite – weak and cowardly, afraid of the unknown and doubtful that I’ll be able to accomplish the task before me. Anybody? In my head, I know that God’s Word is true. In my head, I know that He can do all things and that there is nothing too difficult for Him. I have rehearsed and memorized all of the “Sunday School answers”, the right things to say, but I must confess that there is often a disconnect between my head and my heart when it comes time to move. I possess all the head knowledge I could possibly need, but doesn’t it always come down to a matter of the heart?
When nothing seems to be going your way, do you trust that somehow God is still in control? When you happen upon that police officer who seems to be having a bad day coupled with little grace and doesn’t hesitate writing you that ticket, do you believe that somehow God will still provide? When it seems as if your marriage is loveless and hanging on my one last thread, do you have faith to believe that all things are possible and that God is able to make all things new? When the darkness of depression closes in on every side and you feel lost and alone, is there a still, small voice inside of you that says, “You’re not alone. I am here”?
There are so many reasons why I love Joshua 1:9, but let me just give you two. First, God commands us to be strong and courageous. This is not a suggestion. Therefore, it can be assumed that it is possible to be both. There is no reason for us to feel afraid or discouraged by the tasks God sets before us, because since He commands us to be strong and courageous, we can know that we can be both through the power of His Spirit at work within us. Secondly, no matter how we feel and no matter what our circumstances would seem to speak over us, we are never alone. Trust me, I know what it feels like to feel alone, like no one on this earth seems to understand what you’re going through, like no one really hears your cry for help. But friends, God is true to His Word and faithful to His promises, and repeatedly throughout Scripture (not just this one time in Joshua 1:9), we are given the assurance that God will never leave us or forsake us. Therefore, we are never alone. Therefore, when He asks us to be strong and courageous and to face the day ahead of us with boldness and confidence, we can because He is with us…wherever we go. Psalm 139 speaks to this promise as the psalmist King David poetically describes how there is nowhere he can go to get away from God’s presence. No matter where he runs to, God is already there.
Whenever I write to each one of you and whatever I choose to write about, know that it comes from a place that I am in or a place that God has brought me out of. I have been there. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m still there. When you feel alone, what do you turn to? What do you run to? What do you cling to? What do you default to? Is it God’s Word? Is it His promises? Do you rehearse His faithfulness? Or do you rehearse your circumstance? If you remember one thing from today, remember this: God is with you wherever you go. Hope is found within that promise.