This week the verse “Be Strong and Courageous” (Joshua 1:6, NIV) stuck to me like glue and repeated themselves in my mind like a favorite song. I was taken back to a dark time in my past. Hiding away in a safe house with my mom and younger siblings. What got me through those days was a small card I received. The text on the card read “Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call forth our courage and strength” (anonymous).
Back then I didn’t know God. I knew of Him vaguely, went to church, but had no relationship with the good Lord. Regardless, He was watching me and gave me words of encouragement through unknown sources during a time when I saw no future for myself. I pulled through because I believed those words on the card. I wanted to be strong through the rough times.
Now reading the words “be strong and courageous,” I am filled with awe at what it means and at how these words were imbedded in my life.
Let me back up a little and give you some context to this verse. These words were given to Joshua by God after Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and God saw they were finally ready to receive their inheritance. Joshua was to lead the Israelites into the promised land. These words were words of wisdom given to him on the day he took over the leadership position from Moses.
God directed him to be “strong and courageous” because he will be leading the Israelites into the promised land. God also promised to be with him and the Israelite community. These words, although spoken to Joshua only, also held true for the whole community of Israelites! This group of wanderers was to go into the fortified cities and destroyed them! This was and is not a feat for the faint of heart. I don’t know about you, but I would be terrified and feel under-qualified for the job. I’m pretty sure a couple of them were afraid as well and needed the encouragement to be strong and courageous. They needed reassurance that God is with them and they will succeed.
Be Strong – the ability to withstand great force or pressure; not easily disturbed upset, or affected.
God was not asking them to be physically strong, just mentally. He’s asking them not to falter because He’s going to give them the promised land.
It’s not easy being mentally strong. Imagine seeing these great cities with warriors who trained for many years and were equipped with the best weapons of the time. The Israelites must have compared what they have to what their enemies have, and there was no doubt that their enemies were humanly better equipped and prepared for battle than they were. I wrote “humanly” because looking at it from a human standpoint, it is just not possible that the Israelites could take over the land before them. The odds were stacked against them.
It was so crucial for God to direct Joshua and spoke those words to Him. They need only be mentally strong and trust that the Lord will deliver their enemies into their hands. If the Israelites lose their minds to the fear of being defeated based on human knowledge of what they can see, they would never have gotten their promise (and this was true in Numbers 13 when the Israelites were fearful of the Canaanites and refused to go into battle. They believed they would be killed and stubbornly refused to trust God and in the end, those who gave into the seed of doubt instead of trusting God were not able to take possession of the land the Lord promised (Numbers 14)).
When I was living in a safe house with my family, it would have been so easy to just give up on life. It would have been so easy to act out – lash out at how unfair my life was. I chose to be strong for my younger siblings and for my mom who didn’t speak English. I chose to be there to interpret for her when needed it. I was often overwhelmed, lonely, and stressed because I felt as though the whole situation rested on me. Like I mentioned earlier, it was the quote I received to stay strong that kept me going in the right direction. It kept me believing that there is a better tomorrow and I could get over this moment of uncertainty.
If you’re having a rough time in this season of your life, stay strong even though you feel so so SO alone and wonder if it will ever end. You can’t seem to see any changes in the near future, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can’t breathe and you just want to give up – you just want to rest your weary soul and forget everything. I’m telling you, stay strong. Change is coming your way. Keep believing that God will give you what you’ve been wanting. Have strong faith in Him and His promise of deliverance.
Be courageous – the ability to do something that may frighten oneself.
Don’t be afraid to take what the Lord showed you and has promised to give to you.
If the Israelites were strong in their faith, but lack the courage to take possession of the land God has promised, they would never have received it.
One moment that terrified me, or left me unsure of the Israelites’ situation was the scene when they snuck into the city to scout the place. They were being hunted down and had to rely on the prostitute’s generosity and word to get out safely and then return to the city safely. It was a terrifying moment. How would they escape? There were just three of them against a whole nation! It took an enormous amount of courage to sneak into enemy territory, but they did it. They did it because they strongly believe in God’s promises and that gave them the courage to go into their enemy’s land.
Their courage was rewarded. They destroyed their enemies completely, took over the land, and were feared by the surrounding cities.
I’ve never really had a fear of speaking up or saying what’s on my mind until after I lived in a safe house for half a year. I found myself slow to speak in a group setting and sometimes I don’t speak at all because I fear that I may say something wrong. Truthfully, I fear the results of what I say with my words. When I don’t speak and someone else speaks out with my thoughts and were told it was brilliant, well, I wish I could’ve had the courage to speak my brilliant thoughts too. I let the fear of embarrassment and appearing ignorant get the best of me (of course, this is also a lack of confidence in my knowledge). What would happen if I didn’t let my self-doubt cloud my judgment? What would happen if I had the courage to speak up?
This blog is my chance. I was nervous and had doubts, but I know God is using me. Through this blog, He is preparing me for bigger things. I don’t know what it is yet, but I am excited about it. I continue to push aside my doubts, my fear of criticisms, gather my courage and keep striving forward with the best that I have. I know I can do better with each learned mistakes. I am happier for doing my best in this space than not at all.
Have you lost your strength and the courage to keep going on a path that seems like a dead-end? Or wish that you haven’t given up in the past?
Second, be still.
Third, look to God (whether that is through prayer, meditating on the Bible, singing, etc.).
Fourth, be strong and courageous (take that step forward).
Fifth, continue to look to God.
You are right where God needs you to be right now. The mistakes you’ve made, the wrong turns you’ve taken, they are the instruments He’ll use to show His glory and His power.
Be ready to be filled with awe when you realize God has worked in your life before you knew Him. Be prepared for the good change He’ll bring to your life.
I was blown away when I realized God had given me strength before I knew Him. He watched over me to get me to where He needs me to be. It is so crazy! It is mindblowing. And it is warm. It is love.
I’m so amazed at His love for me, I am beyond speechless when I see the ways He loved me and learn of how He plans to show me His love.
As I am writing this post, it dawned on me that the verse “Be strong and courageous” is also deeply rooted in “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV). I see the two verses working together to say, “you don’t have to do anything but be strong in your faith in me, have courage, and know that I am God and I will do all the work for you. Look only to me.” I don’t have to do the heavy lifting or worry about the next proper step. God has it taken care of.
Are you ready to be strong and courageous in the Lord? Let’s all be courageous and do that one thing we want to do but are too afraid to take that one step towards it. Let’s take what belongs to us because God gave it to us.
What life situation did you have that you realize God had a hand in it after the fact? Let me know in the comments below.
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