“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” (Joshua 1:9).
FACING THE FEARS THAT LAY AHEAD OF HIM, JOSHUA WAS TOLD TO BE “STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.” I can hardly read this text without thinking of my son Brock, whose favorite song as a child was “Dare to Stand Like Joshua.” And I suppose there are few admonitions in the Bible of more practical value than what God said to Joshua. “Be strong and courageous” is extremely good advice.
But today, what I want you to pay attention to is God’s question to Joshua. Just before telling him to take courage, God said, “Have I not commanded you?” This might mean that God was commanding Joshua to be courageous, but it might have another meaning as well. The situations in which Joshua would need courage were those that he would be in as a result of carrying out God’s commands. And I believe God was saying, “Joshua, as long as you are doing what I expect of you, you need not fear. I will always give you the help you need to do what I have commanded you to do.”
In one of his books, C. S. Lewis had an entire chapter called “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” And in typical Lewis style, his answer was: it is both hard and easy, depending on how you look at it and how you go about it. But Lewis would have been the first to admit that even when it is approached in the right way, Christianity still requires some very hard things. There is no way around this fact, and ironically, we only make the Lord’s commands harder when we try to take the hardship out of them.
But if doing the Lord’s will is hard, so what? If He has commanded it, then we need to be brave. There is no such thing as a command of God that is doomed to fail due to a lack of resources. He is God, and He will help us do whatever He requires us to do.
So as you consider obeying the gospel, many of the what ifs will be frightful. I won’t insult you by saying that your path will be easy. But what I will do is share my own experience: if God commands it, it can be done. Our prayer is not for ease but for boldness.
I do not ask to walk smooth paths
Nor bear an easy load,
I pray for strength and fortitude
To climb the rock-strewn road.
(Gail Brook Burket)