When I consider the words strong and courageous, many things come to mind. From the world’s perspective, it seems to mean that you are to be strong, you are to be courageous. There are many clichés or sayings that point to this worldly perspective: “You can do it.” “Get a grip.” I remember as a young woman hearing songs like, I Did It My Way and I am Woman, Hear Me Roar. The worldly view is that it depends on your strength and courage and you alone.
A very different point of view is seen in Joshua 1:9, in which God tells Joshua, “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.” Let’s look closely at this verse. Joshua is commanded to be strong and courageous. Fear and trembling are the common responses to a big problem. I have had many of those moments and I am sure I will have more, but the command is to be strong and courageous. How is this accomplished? Think about who it is that has given these orders and instructions, the great Jehovah, the everlasting I AM, who is faithful to his promises, and able to perform. This reminds me of a quote by Tony Evans. He said, “Don’t let the facts cancel out the faith.” That is what we tend to do. We list all the reasons that we are fearful and anxious, the facts–and forget about God. Another quote from Tony Evans reminds us, “If you are anxious and out of control, you have forgotten who is in control.” I love this because it helps me correct my thinking and reminds me of my heavenly Father who loves me and wants only His best for me. He doesn’t just command strength, He actually supplies the ability to be strong; He will “help you and uphold you with His righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). What a perfect verse to memorize for those time when fear and weakness threaten! Here it is in its entirety: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
In Exodus 33:15, Moses reminds us of the faithfulness of God and the importance of His presence in our lives. Moses said to God as he is instructed to go into the Promised Land, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Moses knew where his strength and courage came from. It is important to remember that the Lord does not send me anywhere that He does not go with me. I will be strong and courageous in trials, in tribulations, in joy, and in celebration, because no matter the situation, God is with me. As David said in Psalm 118:6, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
No matter what our circumstances are right now, we can be strong and courageous–at peace knowing God is with us. Isaiah explains this perfect peace in Isaiah 26:3-4, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” Along with perfect peace, you can rejoice in the Lord and find joy in His promise of His presence and provision. Consider the words of Habakkuk:
Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will [find] joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
Of such faith, David Jeremiah writes, “Every Christian could paraphrase Habakkuk’s words. We have all been in situations where God seems to be absent from our need. The question is, what do we do then? Do we give up on God, or do we praise Him ‘even though’? Looking back at Joshua, that must have been how he felt when God told him (paraphrasing), ‘Lead the Israelites into Canaan, drive out the pagan inhabitants, and secure the land as a homeland for My people.’ But then God gave Joshua the key to accomplishing his assignment: ‘The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ God promised Joshua he would not be alone. And that promise applies to us as well. We are not alone when we set out on our seemingly impossible tasks either.’ God does not commission us without the promise of His presence and provision. We only have to be ‘strong and of good courage.’” (Turning Point Daily Devotions, 2/14/22).
The prospect of being strong and courageous can be daunting from the world’s point of view, but from God’s point of view, it is dependent only on our remembering God’s faithfulness and trusting Him. As Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:21-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lord God, I am thankful that because I am a believer, You are with me wherever I go. You are faithful and You always keep your Word. I will be strong and courageous because I trust in you and remember You are Almighty God. Help me to be reminded of your faithfulness as Joshua reminded the Israelites at the end of his life, “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14). I praise your Holy Name because “your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides” (Psalm119:90).
In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen