Where do we find the strength and courage we need to life for Jesus? Many of us are aware the living for the Lord is often difficult. As we seek to do so, we encounter challenges such as overcoming the Enemy in regards to habitual sin, risking isolation by not participating in workplace gossip about another co-worker, or experiencing rejection for sharing our faith with someone who does not know Jesus. So where does the strength come to overcome sin? And where does the courage come to face our fears head on?
As we continue our Old Testament reading this month, we’ll be reading a book about a man named Joshua. He was faced with a difficult task of leading the Israelite army into battle against the inhabitants of the Promised Land, the same inhabitants the Israelites feared in the book of Numbers when they chose not to engage in battle. Furthermore, the previous leader of the Israelites, Moses, has recently passed away, making this one of Joshua’s first leadership tasks.
Therefore, over and over, God reminds Joshua to “be strong and courageous” (1:6-7, 9). So where would Joshua find this strength and courage needed to lead the Israelite army in this nearly impossible task? He would find it in the presence of the Lord. Before God encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous in v. 6, He promises Joshua that He will be with him and never forsake him in v.5. Again in v.9, after encouraging Joshua to be strong and courageous, God says to Joshua, “Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Finally, prior to the people encouraging Joshua to be strong and courageous in v. 18, they pray that God would be with Joshua in v.17.
Repeatedly, Joshua and the rest of the Israelites camp acknowledge that, in the face of fears and trials, strength and courage are found in the presence of the Lord with us.
Therefore, we should not be surprised when the presence of Jesus calms the storm in Mark 4:35-41, or when Jesus is comforting the disciples in John 14 by saying He will not leave them as orphans but come back for them, or when he later promises them the Holy Spirit is coming so their hearts should not be afraid, or when he encourages them to go make disciples while attaching the promise that he will be with them always.
Over and over again, we are encouraged to be strong and courageous. Not because of who we are, but because of the presence of the Lord with us.
Therefore, whether we are needing the strength to overcome habitual sin, needing courage to not give into workplace gossip, or needing boldness to share our faith with those who do not know Jesus, may we remember the words spoken by the Lord long ago: “Be strong and courageous, for I am with you.” What a great promise from a great God, as we seek to live for Him.