Be Strong and Courageous…
Be strong and courageous…those words are spoken to Joshua many times by God throughout the book of Joshua. Why would God continue to tell Joshua to be strong and courageous? Do you think that maybe he wasn’t feeling strong or courageous? Think about Joshua…he had spent somewhere around 40 years in the wilderness being Moses’ right hand man. After the death of Moses, Joshua became “the guy.” 40 plus years in the shadows of a great and mighty warrior of the Lord…40 plus years in the shadows of a great and mighty leader. Do you think Joshua might have struggled with feelings of insecurity? That he felt like he could never fill the shoes of someone so great?
It is not that Moses was without fault. He certainly was not. He failed. He doubted. He went ahead of the Lord. As a matter of fact, those faults led to Moses not being able to attain the ultimate goal…the Promised Land. He never got to enter it, only view it from a distance. Yet, God never left Moses. Moses, flaws and all, is one of the greats mentioned in the Hall of Faith. By faith, Moses chose to be a slave, not a prince, and eventually to lead his people out of slavery because “he saw the One who is unseen.” Those are pretty big shoes!
Yet, in the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord speaks to Joshua saying, “I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Do you think Joshua, knowing his own heart, thought that maybe wasn’t possible? Don’t we all do that. We see a great and Godly leader, who is not without faults, and think I could never be that great? Why is that? I think it is because we know what goes on in our own heads, in our own hearts and we listen to Satan whisper to us that we are the only one that is that bad, evil, wicked, depraved…enter your own adjective. We are reminded in scripture that man looks at the exterior, but God sees straight to the heart.
Be strong and courageous…God repeats this over and over to Joshua. Now mind you, He does not say be strong and courageous because you are a big, buff guy, nor does He say be strong and courageous because you are such a good leader. No! God says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Wow! Friend, I am here to tell you that this applies to you and me today. The Lord your God does not want you to be confident in your own abilities, your own bank account, or your family heritage. He wants you to be strong and courageous because He is with you…He will never leave you…He will never forsake you.
Fast-forward into the book of Joshua and an interesting thing happens to this leader of God’s people. This man who had to be reminded so many times to be strong and courageous by God verbally and sees God’s mighty hand at work in the battles that they face along the way, has a transformation. In Chapter 10, after another battle and victory that none but God could have orchestrated, Joshua encourages his warriors. What words does he use to encourage them? “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous.” Where had he heard those words before? This is the thing. Those words God speaks to you…they are not just for you. In that season, those words are for you, for encouragement, for strength, for comfort. But, there is always a greater good for the words of the Lord. If He only gave those words for our own encouragement, strength and comfort, it would not be long until we were all so fat and happy that we would find no need of our God. Those words are given to us for another reason, and Joshua gets that. God wants us to use those same words that we needed in a season, to speak His hope into another’s life. It is true that God turns a mess into a message. But a message is meant to be shared! Your mess can never be a message if you do not share how the Lord is working it out. I know from personal experience that the harder I tried to work the “kinks out of the necklace of life”, the bigger the mess I made. Once I could surrender that mess, the Lord let me know that He had been waiting to work it out for me, in His way, in His time, for His purpose…all for His glory.
I am not saying that all of the “kinks” are worked out of my life. My encouragement today is that you would be strong and courageous because the Lord your God is with you and He will never leave you or forsake you! That is true hope, true encouragement! If you know what I’m talking about, share the reason for your hope with a hurting soul today for the glory of the Lord your God!