I find it interesting how God told Joshua at the beginning of his watch
as Israel's new leader to be strong and courageous 3 times in the
space of 4 verses. I don't think The Lord would have repeated Himself
unless Joshua would have needed to hear these comforting words of
After all, Moses had been Israel's champion for 40
years and though Joshua was at his side all that time, he had not
carried the ultimate responsibility to lead the people. Now Moses was
gone and the burden of leadership rested squarely on Joshua's shoulders
alone. I think it would have been quite understandable if Joshua was
dealing with some issues of self doubt and fear as he faced the sobering
responsibility of leading all Israel into the promised land.
am amazed and greatly encouraged to read how God dealt with Joshua's
trepidation. He didn't rebuke Joshua and He didn't shame him, He just
encouraged him to not be afraid and He promised to go with him each step
of the way.
Often when we think of courageous people, we may
make the assumption that they are fearless and not intimidated by
anything. While this may be partly true, I think that the true
definition of courage is not the absence of fear but rather the ability
to face our deepest fears head on and still not back down. In a
nutshell, I believe that our greatest need for courage comes when we
have the greatest reason to be afraid.
Being courageous in the
face of extreme adversity is something that I am learning on a whole new
level now from our youngest daughter, Candice. In September 2014, she
was unexpectedly diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. Though
she was devastated by the initial diagnosis, my wife and I have watched
her face the biggest challenge of her 25 years with a grace and
courage at a level that we have not seen in her before.
there were many opportunities for fear to raise it's ugly head in her 2
1/2 years of daily treatment, through God's strength, she faced every
obstacle with a ferocious tenacity that could only come from God. So
much so that our oldest daughter calls Candice, her ‘brave lion heart'.
continues to teach our family that true courage is not about being
oblivious to fear, but having the ability to keep standing even in the
midst of the most intimidating of circumstances. At the height of her
treatment, she texted me a quote from the late Bob Marley which said...
'You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only
choice'. I think that pretty well sums up our daughter's resolve too.
the time of writing this blog, our daughter has successfully completed
her treatment and is now cancer free! Though this difficult season in
her life is now in her rear view mirror, the lessons that we have
learned as a family will serve as markers for the rest of our lives.
reality is, that at one time or another, we will all face things that
make us afraid. Unfortunately fear is one of the byproducts of the
fallen world that we live in. But even when we are struggling with
things that cause us to be afraid the most, God's promise is that He is
with us even in the most difficult of circumstances.
may not always be able to tangibly feel His abiding presence during
those dark times, He is close to us nonetheless. The truth that will
sustain us through every circumstance is that He is closer to us than
we could possibly imagine.
King David wrote about God’s
nearness when he penned the words of Psalm 23:4 which say… Even though I
walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with
me your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (NIV)
feel distant from Him or not in our deepest times of struggle, the
Biblical reality is that there is nothing in all creation that will
ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ
Jesus… In good times and in bad times (Romans 8:35-39).
you are struggling with fear, don’t let the presence of fear in your
life discourage you. God doesn't judge you for being afraid. He
completely understands why you react the way that you do because He has
a Father's heart toward you (Psalm 103:13-14). And His Father's heart
wants to strengthen, encourage and comfort you (1 Corinthians 14:3)
with the same words that He spoke to Joshua when he was about to face
the biggest giants of his life...
Joshua 1:9 Haven’t I
commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be
dismayed, for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go.” (WEB)