During Changing Times, Be Strong and Courageous

What is the biggest fear you have had to face in life? No matter what season or times we live in, we will all face difficult situations to which we will need courage and strength. It could be a change in jobs, a new venture, a new career, or new relationship. Returning to a new normal after more than a year of being isolated looks like new territory for many of us. Some of us have been feeling comfortable working from home and leading at a slower pace. Our routines are changing once again, and it can be daunting for some to go back to normal when things look different. This is when we know God is leading us to take effort and get out of our comfort zones and be courageous to embrace a new season.

Joshua, Moses’ assistant, experienced that kind of change with a great daunting assignment to lead the people of Israel from the wilderness to the promised land. We pick up the story on Joshua 1:1-9

“After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua receiving this encouragement gets out of his comfort zone, becomes courageous, and leads the people of Israel into conquering the land of Canaan, the much-awaited promise land. At first read, we think that it must been easy for Joshua to take on such a mission. Yet if it was so, God would not have said to him three times “Be Strong and Courageous”. Joshua and the people of Israel must have faced fear and discomfort for various reasons. First, Moses the nation’s leader died and everyone was mourning. When we are grieving something or someone, it is hard to take the courage to move on. Secondly, they were all used to following Moses, and now they have a new leader, though not unknown to them. When a nation is used to a leader, it takes a shift to follow a successor. Thirdly, Joshua probably was uncomfortable to fill such big leadership shoes from his mentor. He also had the enormous task of organizing 2.5 million people, the size population of Vancouver, to pack up their tents, cross the Jordan river, and then fight to conquer the land. Despite his discomfort and fears, Joshua has shown himself to be a leader of great courage and strength. How did he do it and what can we learn from him?

1. Before we can receive courage, we must have an anchoring hope.
Joshua, along with Caleb, had known about the promised land for a while and were able to see it with their own eyes during the first exploration of Canaan along with other 10 spies. At the time, they were confident that God would help them possess the land. Joshua had hoped in the promise of God of this land, and in Joshua 1:5, God reconfirms His promise of provision, presence and protection by describing the land and then saying “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”

When we trust in a God who will never abandon us and will protect us, and never fail us, we are filled with the hope of a great outcome. Putting our hope in God’s character will inject a measure of courage in us for the purposes He has for us – with Him we will not fail. When you lose that hope, you are in danger of losing all courage.

The assignment was God-sized. It demanded from Joshua God-sized strength and courage. When a cause or mission comes from God, it will surely motivate you to depend on God, pull out strength and courage to attain it.
We get courage when we know what our God assignment is just like Joshua did.
What has God asked you to do recently? Do it courageously trusting that He will be with you. He will not fail you. He will not abandon you.

2. To enter into a new promised land, we must shake our discomfort and cross our Jordan river. (Joshua 1:6)

Israel was probably comfortable in their rhythm in the desert, especially the young generation who only knew life in the wilderness and found it daunting to enter into a promised land, which required effort in stepping out in faith to conquering. Though God promised to open the way, they must still fight and conquer it. They had to shake discomfort and temporary routines in order to enter a new and strange land.

Likewise, Joshua shook his discomfort, and based his confidence upon God’s promise and obeyed His instructions to move forward. He went the extra mile because he set his hope for a better land on the other side of the river.

John Maxwell once said that “everything you want but don’t have is outside your comfort zone.” Joshua had a revelation that as he stepped out of his comfort zone, he would see a miracle from God.

3. You can find courage in:

God’s presence (Joshua 1:5) – Joshua knew God would be with him, and if God was for him, no one can be against him and the nation, for God never fails.
God’s word (Joshua 1:7-9) – Before taking on the land, God gave firm instructions in that his courage and strength would come from studying, reciting and meditating on God’s word. There are few things that will happen when you do that: His word helps you see yourself as God sees you; it will give you His perspective on the situation and His character. All of this would surely give you the courage to step into any changing situation.
God’s faithfulness in the past – Joshua witness and remembered God’s miraculous acts; The plagues and deliverance from Slavery, the parting of the red sea, and mana coming from Heaven. He remembered God’s goodness and that gave him courage. How has God been faithful to you in the past? Take courage and comfort in that.
God’s people (Joshua 1:10) – Joshua did not accomplish this great assignment on his own! He was surrounded by officers and also the nation itself who trusted in his leadership. At the end of chapter 1, the nation reminded him to be strong and courageous as God called him to.

4. Courage is action! Courage is our response to fear and discomfort, so take action!

Joshua responded with obedience to God’s call and word. Once he heard from God he immediately got the nation and army ready by informing them of the plan and God’s promise. Even though God had promised to give them the land that they set foot in, this also meant that they would have to fight and conquer it by faith.
Whatever God is leading you to do, take courage, do not be afraid for He is with you. Isaiah 41:10, God personally tells you this:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The Holy Spirit will pour out His power over you to cross the river and enter into a new season of life. He has given you victory and you can trust Him with all of your heart that He will not abandon you. Remember He is saying to you – “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”