Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the your God is with you wherever you go. (ESV)
When we encourage someone, it is often like a Dixie cup of water offered to a parched marathon runner. When God encourages someone, it is like a shot of nitrous oxide to a muscle car on the drag strip. We want to encourage, but we don’t want to be too forceful. We tell our friends to hang in there and not to worry, but we may as well add “pretty please” for as much power as our words sometimes carry.
Now look at how God encourages Joshua. In nine verses He repeatedly tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. He tells him what is going to happen and the specific things Joshua needs to do, and then God ends this encouragement with a reminder. “This is not an option,” He tells Joshua. “I have commanded you. This is an order, buddy. I am not suggesting that you not be frightened. I am flat out telling you, and the reason is that I will be right there with you the whole way.”
What would it be like to receive that kind of encouragement from God Himself? Because the words of Scripture are living words, we are in fact receiving the same encouragement that Joshua heard. Of course, that can be a sobering realization. Since God Himself is telling us to get up off the mat and face the world with Him at our side, we really do not have much choice but to do it.
Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins