“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
If ever a year demanded courage and strength, it’s 2020. Let’s see, there’s been a global health crisis, which led to widespread economic uncertainty, unprecedented unemployment, adapting to remote work and virtual learning, and who could forget the high stakes US presidential election to top it all off? Unsurprisingly, these challenges have brought with them a host of emotions: stress, fear, and anxiety as the world spun into chaos. It takes courage to simply show up each day now, more than ever.
In Joshua chapter 1, the nation of Israel was in a similarly tense and uncertain time: leadership change from Moses to Joshua and preparing for battle over God’s promised land. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, this too, was an unprecedented season for the nation of Israel as they prepared to confront the fortified city of Jericho, which was located in the very land the previous generation had deemed too strong to take (Numbers 13: 26-31). So, what happened?
God spoke directly to their new leader’s uncertain heart: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Immediately, Joshua rounds up the officers and tells them to get ready. We leave in three days, he said (Joshua 1: 10). Talk about courageous faith!
We oftentimes associate “courage” with these big, heroic acts of bravery in the face of fear or uncertain odds, like Joshua demonstrated. Many of us, can probably recall moments or seasons in our lives that required a tremendous act of courage in the midst of great fear or uncertainty. But, I think we too often overlook those every day, perhaps seemingly small acts of courage. Author and Researcher Brené Brown calls these moments “ordinary courage.” According to Brown, courage originally meant “to speak one’s mind by telling one’s heart.” In other words, it’s showing up for tough conversations with a spouse, child, or colleague; it’s advocating for oneself or on behalf of another; it’s sharing my faith when I’m unsure how it will be received.
Jesus knew that we would face moments, both big and small, that require tremendous courage – but just like Joshua, we aren’t sent out to face life on our own. After Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross by paying the penalty for our sin so that we might have a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father, He concluded His earthly ministry with these final words: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). For the Jesus follower, this should fill our hearts with tremendous hope to face any challenge that comes our way with courage and faith.
For our American readers, this topic of courage rings especially true today, Veteran’s Day, as we celebrate the courage and bravery of the men and women who, bravely serve on the literal front lines. We, at RFTH, thank you for your courageous service.