Well Worn Pages is a series of posts giving us a small window into a particular passage of Scripture that the author returns to time and time again for encouragement, comfort, or perspective. If you would like to contribute a post to this series, email content to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of people stepping into positions of authority. One admirable person in this regard was Joshua. Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, their long-time leader, Moses, died. God appointed Joshua to take on the primary leadership role as the Israelites prepared for their long-awaited conquest of the Promised Land.
For Joshua, there were a couple of major challenges in taking on this new position. First, he had big shoes to fill in regard to leadership. For the past fifty years, Israel had followed an incredible leader in Moses. Moses spoke with authority, performed miracles, and guided thousands of people out of captivity. He was the person that Israel looked to when disputes arose and he demanded the respect of everyone. He was Israel’s hero, their captain. Replacing a man of his esteem would be daunting for anyone.
Additionally, the Promised Land was not something that would be freely given. The occupants of the land were “giants” and had enormous armies. For the past forty years, Israel had been wandering in the desert in anticipation of this grand inheritance. If they failed in their conquest, Joshua was the one who solely would be blamed.
Considering these factors, Joshua had reason to be nervous taking on this new position. He was navigating uncharted territory in leading a homeless nation while also juggling large expectations. However, within this uncertainty, God responded in a profound way in Joshua 1:9, as he says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Despite the challenges that lay before him, God called Joshua to trust in him. Although the task seemed to be huge, God reminded Joshua that he is so much bigger than anything we can imagine. Regardless of the armies and evil that lay ahead of Israel, God promised that he would not leave them. Joshua did not need to fear anything because the God who created the universe was on his side. Joshua leaned into this promise and ultimately led Israel through its unlikely conquest, trusting in God every step of the way.
Although this passage is specifically directed toward Joshua, I have found encouragement in this piece of Scripture throughout my own life. I remember coming across it first when I was a child dealing with anxiety. The message of this text shuts down the notion of fear. Regardless of how hopeless a situation might seem, or how overwhelmed you might feel, God is there with you. He is with you in the triumphs and the defeats, the mountains and the valleys. Even in situations that seem to be hopeless, God promises to be with us and to never abandon us. This story is a wonderful reminder that with God, all things are possible.