“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 (NIV)
Excitedly, I shared my good news with her.
She was someone I admired, a respected leader and a friend. I assumed her response would mirror my enthusiasm, but I was wrong.
Instead, after I revealed a new opportunity in my life, she responded with a look of doubt and concern and gave an awkward reply. I was taken aback, having not anticipated her responding this way. Unknowingly, I’d placed a lot of expectation on her approval and celebration of my new leadership role. When she didn’t respond the way I expected, I was devastated.
A little less eager and hopeful, I packed up what was left of my confidence and headed to the car. I had morphed into an insecure version of myself, questioning whether I was ready, equipped or qualified to lead anyone.
I became discouraged and wondered if maybe God picked the wrong person for the job.
It was in this place that I began to examine the life of Joshua. He, too, found himself with newfound responsibility. He was the successor to Moses, a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Israelites who delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Joshua knew God face-to-face, and through him, the Lord displayed His mighty power.
After Moses’ death, as we see early in Joshua chapter 1, Joshua was thrust into the forefront as the new leader. The Lord immediately told him to ready the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land. Then He began to encourage him.
Four times in Joshua 1, God tell Johsua, “… Be strong and courageous.” Joshua never communicated doubt or fear in response to what God was asking him to do, but God knew his heart.
God repeatedly told him to be strong and courageous because those were the exact words Joshua needed to have reverberating in his heart and mind. God provided Joshua with deep soul encouragement that only God knew he needed.
God’s words were not merely a suggestion or optional advice. His words were a command backed not by Joshua’s qualifying character traits but by the reassuring promise that “… the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9b).
Clinging to these words, I nervously stepped into my new leadership role.
“Be strong and courageous,” I told myself. I was wavering somewhere between, “I got this!” and “I can’t do this at all!” As I continued to recite God’s encouragement to Joshua, my bout with uncertainty was exchanged for confidence in God.
His approval was the only one I needed.
Several months later, I had a brief conversation with the leader I admired. “How is your new leadership role going?” she asked. I responded graciously, and then the unexpected happened. She looked at me with intentionality and said, “It’s a God thing!”
I couldn’t believe it. Although the affirmation I initially hoped to receive from her came months later, this time, I wasn’t dependent on it. I had been secured by God.
His encouragement is not rooted in the opinion of what someone thinks we can and cannot do. Nor is it rooted in our abilities. God’s encouragement emanates from the unchanging nature of who He is.
Whether we’re a new mom trying to adjust to the demands of motherhood, facing an unexpected illness, starting over in life, or just trying to face each day’s tasks, in each of us God cements the same encouragement in our hearts, “… Be strong and courageous …” (Joshua 1:9a).
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to be with me wherever I go. When I am tempted to doubt and fear, help me remember that You are with me. In light of this promise, may I choose to be strong and courageous no matter what I am facing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 46:7, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In what area of your life is God encouraging you to be strong and courageous? How might your life look differently if you chose to be strong and courageous in this area? Join the conversation in our comments section!
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