Apparently, Joshua was terrified by the challenges. And who could blame him? Moses’s recent death had thrust him into the leadership role of a great nation. He was no longer the lieutenant to the leader. He was the leader. Moreover, Joshua was assuming leadership at the critical moment, just as Israel would cross the Jordan River and begin the conquest of the land.
Who was adequate for this challenge? Who could follow a Moses? Would the people follow him as they had followed Moses? What kind of opposition would the Israelites face? And most importantly, would God be with Joshua as he had been with Moses?
It was all most intimidating, and anyone who has ever led can empathize.
God empathized. Three times in the first nine verses, God encourages Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” God addresses Joshua’s fear: “Do not be frightened; do not be dismayed." Yes, the challenges are enormous. But Joshua, do not give way to fear and discouragement (two of Satan’s sharpest arrows). Do not give way to fear and discouragement for one basic reason: I will be with you. I will be with you, Joshua. Wherever you are, I will be with you. Wherever you go, I will be with you. Joshua, you will be fine, no matter what happens, no matter what you go through. Because the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go.
Is this not the golden promise? Is this not God’s message to us? When we are overwhelmed by fear and discouragement, when we lose our job, when a teenager rebels, when the diagnosis is cancer, when we lose a loved one, when we battle depression, or when we are not sure we will make it, God says to us: “I will be with you.”
Remember God’s word to you in Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Remember Jesus’s word to you before He returned to heaven: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Remember that God is with you. Right now. Right beside you. Remember!