“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
I frighten easily. My kids know this and love to walk up behind me, say “boo,” and listen to me scream for a full 30 seconds. Seriously, that’s all it takes to elicit a full-fledged, Nightmare on Elm Street sort of response from me.
(Please do not use this information against me. As I tell my kids frequently, one day I will die of a heart attack from a simple “boo.” And they will be sorry.)
With my easy-to-frighten tendencies, you can imagine that I have ventured into very few haunted houses. Just one, in fact. I was a teenager and my younger brother was at the age where he considered strutting through a haunted house to be a Halloween requirement. So he talked my dad into taking us to a local spooky mansion.
As we pulled into the parking lot of the dilapidated structure, I begged to back out of my commitment to walk through the house with my brother and dad. The line was long, it cost too much, my stomach hurt, yada yada yada.
But in the long run, I agreed to venture into the dark halls of this strange place on one condition. My dad would have to stick to me like glue. If my brother wanted to dart ahead and do this thing on his own, proving his budding manhood, that was fine by me. But I needed my dad close enough every step of the way so that I could grab hold at any given moment. And grab hold I did!
I’ve read verses such as Joshua 1:9 commanding my courage and bravery many times before. In fact, I’ve written these verses down and committed them to memory, trying to feed courage into my nervous, anxious soul.
But quite honestly, in the deepest, most honest part of my mind, I’ve also been a little offended at God’s insistence that I “be courageous.” How can you just insist that someone be brave, not fear, be strong? Aren’t these emotions that have to be mustered up, built with time, endowed with experience? And aren’t some people just naturally more courageous and daring while others of us are just died in the wool scaredy cats? The audacity of God to ask such a thing from little ole fraidy cat me!
So while I tried to be courageous by assuring myself, talking myself up, talking the situation down, or just “getting myself together,” I was a little perturbed with my God for insisting on such bravery from me.
And even if I mustered enough courage to take a step or two forward, eventually someone or something would simply whisper “boo” and I’d scream and retreat in haste. That’s happened many a time.
But here’s what I finally realized about God’s admonishment to “be courageous.”
He’s not telling me to muster up courage. He’s telling me to be courageous because He’s going in with me. Just like my dad stuck close to my side as I ventured into that dark, spooky house, God goes with me into every new, frightening, difficult, challenging, and unknown experience I encounter.
I can be brave, courageous, strong, and confident because:
- He is with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9)
- He will equip me (Hebrews 13:21)
- He strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
- He supplies all my needs (Philippians 4:19)
- He is for me (Romans 8:31)
- Nothing can separate me from Him (Romans 8:38-39)
- He is my refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)
- Nothing is to be feared more than Him (Psalm 47:2)
- He will save me (Isaiah 35:4)
- He will help me and hold me up with His strong right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
- He will shed light on anything in the darkness. (Matthew 10:26)
- He will fight for me while I keep silent (or scream?) (Exodus 14:13-14)
- He will not forsake me (Psalm 27)