“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.”
When I was in fourth grade, I started playing Little League baseball. I wasn’t much of a player at first, and I was probably a bit awkward. One of the boys on the team, Steve, decided to give me a hard time. Every practice became a battle, not just to learn how to play, but to get through without being picked on and pushed around.
One day, after practice, there were just a few of us left, waiting for our parents. Steve figured it was a great opportunity to pick a fight, and I quickly found myself fending off a bully. Now, fighting is never a great option, but on this day, it was my only option (other than being completely bloodied). After several minutes, my parents pulled up, and both Steve and I quit the fight and hoped my folks hadn’t noticed.
No such luck. My Dad got out of the car and walked up to me. He said, “You’re not done yet. Get back in there and finish this.”
Before you get the idea that my Dad liked fighting, what He really knew was that I needed respect from Steve. He hoped that by standing up to the kid, I’d get that respect.
Tired beyond belief, I turned around and headed back toward Steve. The look on his face stunned me. Instead of looking like the relentless bully I’d come to know, he looked scared for the first time. There really wasn’t much need to continue the fight. Steve had lost his will to bully me, because he knew that I had my Dad standing with me and supporting me.
Apply that idea to today’s scripture. God was sending Joshua and the Israelites across the Jordan to do some pretty big things. There were enemies of God waiting there, looking tough and ready to beat up on the children of Israel. But God encouraged Joshua, repeatedly telling him to be “strong and courageous” because He would stand with his people in what they had in front of them.
He tells us the same thing today. Living the Christian life isn’t easy, and we will sometimes be greeted with hostility and resistance. But the Lord says, “Be strong and courageous. I will be with you wherever you go.” None of us is alone in our Christian walk, so we shouldn’t act like it by holding God at arm’s length.
This week, make an extra effort to allow Him stand with you, and pray that He will strengthen you for any tough times that lie ahead.
Reflection copyright © 2015 Doug DeBolt
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.