Before crossing the Jordan River to take the land that God promised to his people, God spoke to Joshua in order to embolden him for the task that lie ahead. Moses had died, and Joshua was now the leader of the sons of Israel. God even goes so far as to say to Joshua:
“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5b – NASB)
What a wondrously comforting thing to hear from the God of the universe!
Shortly thereafter, God speaks again – words of encouragement and strength – into the heart of Joshua, saying:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9 – NASB)
Three times in nine short verses, God said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous,” and this is what captures our attention as we read through this exciting section of scripture. It is very encouraging and uplifting, making us want to pump our fist in the air as we shout, “Yes! Strong and very courageous!”
Crossing the Jordan River to take the Promised Land had to be a daunting and fear-inducing endeavor, and God was assuring him that there was no cause for concern. And the driving reality behind that is God’s presence – “I will be with you.” (Verse 5 & Verse 9)
I find that my tendency is to focus on the fear that would come with such a task, and I look at Joshua 1:9 as a verse to allay my fears. But there is another emotional state mentioned here that I should not be overlooking. “Do not be discouraged.”
Fear can be dealt with because “perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) Fear can also be transformed into anger, and anger can be released through aggression, and Joshua would be seeing plenty of aggression in the near future. But discouragement is a different animal. Discouragement runs more deeply and causes us to lose our energy – our inner drive. We tend to want to give up, saying, “What’s the use?”
Each time God says, “do not fear,” he is quick to add, “do not be discouraged.”
“Do not fear or be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21b)
“Do not fear or be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8b)
“Do not fear or be discouraged.” (Joshua 8:1a)
We can refuse discouragement because God’s power, God’s promises, and God’s presence are with us at all times. Consider these uplifting statements from God to Joshua:
- “I am giving the land to the sons of Israel.”
- “I have given it to you just as I spoke to Moses.”
- “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given to you.
- “No man will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.”
- “You shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
- “As I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail or forsake you.”
- “Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Wow! How can we read through that list and still allow discouragement to remain with us? Keep that list close to your heart, relying on the power, promises, and presence of God to see you through trying times.
Victoriously in Christ!
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Over to you: How do keep discouragement at bay? Do you have favorite scriptures for doing so?
One of my go-to verses in difficult and discouraging times is this: The joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8:10, Psalm 28:7). So what the world tells me will give me joy–money, lots of friends, worldly success, fame, beauty–will not. It’s pointless to look for it there as it can’t be found, and it doesn’t last. Encouragement and joy come from the Lord (although sometimes I forget that!!)
Great Insight, Susy. What do you think is the correlation between joy and strength? I suspect most of us would link strength to courage and joy to happiness, but God links joy to strength.
Discouragement is never born from within us. It’s an outside force, trying to bring us down. That has to be one of the best lessons I have learned in the last year. A good Christian friend reminded me recently that God is never about "forcing us" to do anything. He is the God of Free Will, from Day One. Force, or any of its subtle forms of deception and dis-illusion – is from the other one (Satan) and discouragement is his biggest strength because we're human, and we stumble, and we fall…and we fail. So, when I feel discouraged because I don't think I am good enough, or progressing fast enough along the path to sainthood, I try very hard (there are good days and bad days) to remember that our God is a God of promise, and hope, and what lies before us, not behind us. I love this little verse from St. Teresa of Avila in her daily meditations and read it often when I get discourged: "Do not make the mistake of believing that prayer consists in much thinking, or that we are automatically spiritual people. If we are able to think at great length about God, or that we have failed if we cannot do so, if you are given the grace of deep thoughts and understanding, be grateful. But if you are like me, I have no advice to give you but to be patient, until our Lord sends you both matter and light. Place yourself in the presence of God, and do not exhaust yourself searching for reasons for understanding what lies beyond your reach. Do not lay blame on your soul. For the good of your soul consists not in thinking much, but in loving much."
Julie said:> deception and dis-illusion – is from the other one (Satan) and discouragement is his biggest strength
Julie, this is SO key, because we think of discouragement and worry (and the like) as something WE do that it's not that big of a deal. But thiat is so untrue. It is not something WE do, and its source is not in Christ. Part of the power of worry and discouragement is that it seems like such a non-issue, yet it is something scripture addresses again and again.
The truth is, as Christ-followers, we are hupernikomen!!! – SuperConquerers.