Strong and courageous: Joshua 1


“How do I find the courage to do the things I know God wants me to do?”

Many times we know God’s will but lack the conviction to carry it out. It takes courage in the face of opposition, or perceived danger, or in light of drastic changes we must make to our way of living. Joshua needed courage to undertake the invasion of the Promised Land, and here’s how God undergirded his courage.

The Need for Courage

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”

Joshua’s mission was leading the Israelites as they took over the Promised Land. He needed to be strong in order to inspire his people. You and I may not be national or military leaders, but we are on a mission for God. We need strength and bravery to step out in faith and attempt great things for God. Sometimes we lead; sometimes we follow. Always we need courage to overcome the world’s resistance.

The Method for Courage

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.”

The connection between courage and the law of Moses isn’t obvious. The most meaningful link would be that between obedience and righteousness resulting in God’s blessing and protection. From there it is a short step to “if God is for us, who can be against us?” Yet even when God is for us, giving us the ultimate victory, we can still experience much trouble along the way. Courage will be required as much as acquired by obedience to God’s commands. Still, God makes this connection as he charges Joshua to be strong. Perhaps all the courage in the world is worthless if it isn’t backed up by righteousness, and therefore God tells Joshua that his courage must be prefaced by obedience.

The Command to be Courageous

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.”

God commands courage; therefore, discouragement contradicts his will. Discouragement looks at the problem rather than at God. It focuses on our inability instead of God’s power. Discouragement isn’t a natural reaction to disappointment, frustration, or defeat. It’s a sinful response based on lack of faith. I’m not saying discouragement isn’t common or ordinary. I’m saying it is a mistake to be discouraged when we are doing what God asks us to do, even if it is hard to do his will and it doesn’t immediately lead to success.

The Source of Courage

“Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Faith is foundational to courage. Our assurance is based on God’s presence and promises. He has promised to be with us as we go and in whatever circumstances we fight (as long as we are fighting for his kingdom). Therefore, though our senses and emotions may tell us otherwise, our spirit should rest in the knowledge that God goes before us and with us.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort, [i.e., at home]
Christ in the chariot seat, [i.e., travelling by land]
Christ in the stern. [i.e., travelling by water] – from the prayer of St. Patrick


Image by Tony Fischer on Flickr, CC by 2.0


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