Day 19: “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.” (Josh 1:9)
This verse was one that I found during a hard time in my life that I often call my “desert season.” During those years I was pretty passionless in many areas and seemed to know what I didn’t want to do but not what I did want for my life. In my social life, I had moved away from all my college friends and hadn’t made any other good friends in the area yet. In my career, I would just keep substitute teaching each year since I couldn’t think of anything else. In my spiritual life, I didn’t really have a consistent church family to connect with. In my personal walk with God, there wasn’t much going on in terms of daily devotions or intimacy with Christ. My one bright spot was that I was still close with my family but, because of a variety of reasons, I didn’t really feel that I could truly open up to them about my struggles either.
Then somehow I found this verse and it became one I would come back to over and over during those spiritually dry years. Because, in the back of my mind, I always knew that God was there with me in the midst of it all but here it was written out in black and white: “for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” My anxieties and helplessness over my situation were addressed in this verse as well: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” And I saw God’s true desire for me in this command: “Be strong and courageous.” Just that Someone had faith in me was a great source of encouragement at the time.
Even now that I am out of my “desert season,” this verse is still relevant in my life. God is still commanding me to live my life with power and tenacity and not to be fearful or dismayed over my circumstances. However, none of this comes easily to me. I have a tendency to be worried and anxious over my future and don’t usually characterize myself as having strength and courage in the face of adversity.
Yet then why does Joshua 1:9 say that these qualities can be true for me? It is because God is with me at all times and wherever my future takes me! Deuteronomy 31:8 says something similar: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.“ This is a promise I can cling to through all the ups and downs that come into my life.
There is a quote up on my “Quote Board” at home that says, “God is the one and only Constant in my life!“ I can’t remember where it came from but I think it has been one of the quotes that has been up there the longest (and I don’t plan on taking it down anytime soon either). It is a such a necessary reminder to me that in the midst of the inevitable change of life there is God, “who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17).
That God is a my Rock and my Anchor in life is something that I can rely on through all the difficulties that arise (1 Samuel 2:2 and Hebrews 6:19). And I truly crave this consistency in the midst of an ever-changing world. So, will “desert seasons” arise again in my life? Maybe, but now I can be confident that I will not go through them alone and that God will see me through. And to me, that is no small promise.
“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.” (Josh 1:9)