By Sheryl Murray
“Be strong and courageous . . . only be strong and courageous.”Joshua 1
As Joshua was getting ready to lead God’s people into the Promise Land, God tells him to be strong and courageous–four times in chapter one alone! The people of Israel were finally ready to enter the land that God had given them as their inheritance–a beautiful, fertile land. It was time for the next chapter in their journey as God’s people, a time of renewing their relationship with their Creator and Sustainer.
How exquisitely exciting! What a fabulous, historic moment! So why did God stress that Joshua was not to fear, but to be strong and courageous?
Perhaps because a time of renewing is often kind of scary–an unknown entity with lots of possibilities for good and for bad, a time to venture out from the complacency of the familiar into something misty and vague.
This past year was one of those times for my husband Rob and me. Fairly suddenly, amidst the turmoil of the whole COVID thing last June, Rob decided to retire. It’s true that I trusted his judgment and agreed with his decision, but . . . a myriad of questions flooded through my brain: So now what? What about health insurance? What is he going to do instead of working? Will he regret it and get depressed? How will that affect my life and our relationship? Do we have enough resources to retire on? How will our life change, spending so much time together at home?
For Rob, it was the start of a new adventure, a culmination of a lifetime of work, but I’m more the Joshua type. I was nervous about this new beginning. Maybe that’s why I love these verses in Joshua that remind him (and me) to be strong and courageous. In these verses, God also promises that “I will never leave you or forsake you.” That’s a promise God reiterates throughout the Bible. And as Paul reminds us in Romans, “If God be for us, who could be against us?”
And so, I take up the call to renew, not with my own strength and courage, but with God’s strength and courage from His mighty Holy Spirit. I’ll embrace this time of renewal with vigor and enthusiasm!