What do you fear most in life? What is your greatest worry? In Joshua 1:9, the Lord tells Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” These are the same words Moses told Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7. In Joshua 1 “be strong and courageous” is repeated four times! Why so many times? God knows this fallen world is a scary place and our natural tendency is to be afraid. The devil’s two most lethal weapons are fear and discouragement, but God wants you to be strong and courageous. Joshua is an example of someone who overcame fear with faith. He had been a slave, a soldier, a spy, and now he found himself the successor of the most respected man in Hebrew history and one of the most respected in human history. Moses was dead and between the Israelites and the Promise Land was the Jordan River at flood stage, giants, and walled cities! They came to this same moment in Numbers 13 and failed. Certainly, Joshua experienced fear of failing, but how did he overcome his fear?
In Joshua 1:2, the Lord told Joshua, “…you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give them….” Just like Joshua had an assignment, God has an assignment and job for all of us to do. He has a purpose for each of our lives. Joshua’s assignment was filled with danger, challenges, and impossibilities. When God gives us an assignment it can be overwhelming and scary. The assignment will always be greater than our ability. God, however, is not looking for our ability but our availability! We may not have all the answers. We may feel unworthy and unable to accomplish it. We may know we will be misunderstood and criticized. Yet, we are called to step out in faith. The Lord told Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot…” (v. 3). Take the risk and step out in faith. No one wants to fail, so it is tempting to just play it safe. Failure is inevitable. You have to expect setbacks, disappointments, failures, and even loses. But disappointments must not define us or divert us. Progress always involves risks. Learn to see God’s assignment as a gift. There is no Promise Land, without facing your fear with faith. Success in life is fulfilling your God-given purpose.
We know there will be enemies within and without. We fight our own sin nature, flesh, pride, fear, worry, discouragement, doubt, anxiety, and culture. We battle the world, the flesh, and the devil. But if God be for us who can be against us?! Joshua knew firsthand how God had been with Moses, and the Lord assured him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (v. 5). His promise is the same to us today!
There is no lasting success apart from God’s word. In verses 7 and 8 the Lord tells Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” If you want to be prosperous and successful you have to put God first. The Bible is our weapon for battle. Hebrews 12 calls it the sword of the Spirit. Joshua was instructed not to turn to the right or the left. We are bombarded 24/7 with politics, policies, philosophies and theories that sound good on the surface, but they do not stand under the scrutiny of Scripture. Let God be true and all men liars. Jesus is truth and truth is absolute. His word is unchanging, universal, and timeless and it is our authority in all situations. “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of God endures forever” (Is. 40:8).
In verse 11 Joshua tells the people to go get ready. He tells them that in three days they will go take possession of the land. Just because God told them He was giving them the land did not mean they could sit and do nothing! You have to put feet to your prayers. Joshua did this and we see that he overcame his fear of failure. At the end of the book, in chapter 23, he’s about to die. He takes his turn to tell the people, “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left… You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (v. 6, 14). What God did for Moses and Joshua, He will do for you! Remember your assignment and who it is that called you. Be assured of His presence and His promises. Meditate on His word and let it be the final authority. Step out in faith not fear. Be strong and courageous!