"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go."
Easy words to read, but incredibly hard to apply to life. Why is it so hard? Why should understanding that the Lord is with you, wherever you go, be so hard for us to believe?
I was faced with a situation today where those words were hard to believe. As soon as I woke up, I was presented with something I viewed as a road block in life. It was the exact opposite of something I had been asking, anticipating and even praying for to happen. I chose to be upset by it and continued onto the work day upset. Eventually I calmed down and then got a notification on my cell phone, reminding me to read my daily devotion. Guess what my devotion was about? This exact same passage of Scripture. Oh the irony, or should I say miracle?
Here's a little background to understand the context of the situation that the Joshua of the Bible was in when God spoke to him in this verse: Moses, leader of the ancient Israelites for over 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt had passed away and had ordained Joshua to be his successor. Joshua had just been given the new job of leading more than 2 million people into a strange, new land that God had promised them. Before them, lay enemies to conquer and overcome for that land. Sounds like an intimidating task, huh? But, let's also mention the fact that these 2 million, stubborn and ungrateful bunch, had just spend 40 years wallowing around the desert because they complained and failed to have the faith to believe the promises that God made to them the last time He told them this (Joshua was actually faithful and believed back then too, but he and 1 other were the only ones of all of the Israelites to believe). So here the Lord is again, promising Joshua, and more so Israel, the same thing and telling them, "be strong and be courageous; You got this, I, the Lord your God, am with you". You think that Joshua is probably going to take the Lord's Word for this, this time? You bet and Israel did too and they eventually made it to the "Promised Land" of Israel and took it for themselves just as God had promised them they would.
Now how does this all apply to us? We may not have the task of leading 2 million people into conquering a nation for themselves, but every day we are faced with new tasks, new problems, new circumstances. Now matter how much they change, God is with us. He will never falter. He will never fail. He will never abandon us. By being courageous and asking for His help, we can conquer ALL of life's challenges.
Sometimes we forget this endless supply of help. We try to face life on our own. How many of us have done that and ended up wallowing in our own desert for 40 years? Maybe not to that extreme, but we have all had times where we are backed into the corner with no visible escape on our own, other than to ask for help. It requires a great deal of humbling on our part because we are very prideful. We believe that only we know what's best for us. Wrong-O! Make that plea for help to God. Who can possibly know how to help us more than the One who created us? He knows everything about us, knows our circumstances, and knows the best way to help. We may not think it's the best way because often times that process can involve some pain and long-suffering. The Israelites didn't exactly just waltz into the land flowing with milk and honey and start settling down and living "the life". No, they had to fight for it. Many battles were fought, many people died, but in the end they prevailed. We too, can prevail. No victory in life ever comes without a cost. The cost we pay is what makes us stronger to be able to win the next fight in life that arises.
Just know to "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go."