Joshua 1:9: Be strong and courageous.
What is courage? How do we find it? How do we live it? Webster's Dictionary defines it as "That quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and difficulties with firmness, valor." The word is derived from the French word coeur, meaning heart, and comes from the ancient idea that our character and the best of our emotions come from the heart. The movie Braveheart tried to portray such a life of courage against all odds. A better film, one that I viewed years ago in college and wrote an essay about, and one that reaches deeper into the word's meaning is A Man for All Seasons. This is the story of Sir Thomas Moore, a man of great wisdom and nobility, who refused to bow to the wishes of his king on a matter of principle and lost his life for it.
There is no better passage in Scripture that speaks of courage than Joshua chapter 1. Moses had been the Israelite nation's leader for 40 years, and now Joshua was to take over. We find God, knowing Joshua's doubt and fears, saying to him three separate times: "Be strong and courageous" and each time with a different emphasis. First, he promises Joshua, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you." The second time, he adds "Be careful to obey all the law." The third time we see his deep concern for his possibly nervous servant: "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."
For the Christian, there is every reason to be courageous, no matter how dark the external situation may be. As I write this a very dear friend of mine is going through the “valley of the shadow of death” with his wife grievously ill. A family member just received a diagnosis of cancer. Students are graduating from high school and college and face future uncertain decisions. Many United Methodist Churches are preparing for pastoral changes in July. And our UMC denomination faces decisions about our future as a denomination. Another terrorist attack has left at least 22 dead in England. North Korea sends missiles out into the sea on a weekly basis, or so it seems. We pray and look to God for His help in our time of need as Psalm 46:1 instructs us to do. Sometimes it feels hopeless. Often times everything seems way out of control.
But if I stop and consider, I can look back and know that God is faithful and has provided all that I needed in the past and as God promised Joshua, I will never leave you or forsake you. God promised to be with Joshua in difficult times: "As I was with Moses." Being in difficult times myself, that promise has special meaning to me. God's second admonition, "to obey," is just as applicable. If I walk in obedience and love with my Savior, I can trust that he will give me courage. Thirdly, in spite of all my doubts and fears, God is patient and persistent in his encouragement. He will always be with me wherever I go and whatever I do. Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. Now is the time for courage!
Be Strong and Courageous,