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How is it Possible to “be strong and courageous” in Hardship? (Joshua 1)

Four times in Joshua 1, we read the exhortation, “Be strong and courageous.” Joshua knew what it meant to be strong and courageous despite overwhelming adversity. I believe studying Joshua’s journey from bondage to leadership will inspire you on your journey. We will focus on courage in five key areas.

Courage Through Hardship

God used Joshua’s hardships to prepare him for his ultimate role, leading God’s people into the Promised Land (Josh. 1:1-2). Consider Joshua’s early life. Moses was raised the son of Pharoah in a palace, but Joshua was born into slavery, experiencing the harshness and oppression of bondage. It would seem Joshua was left without his earthly father, Nun. He had heard the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and how God promised to give them the land. He had also heard about the setbacks. There will always be obstacles and hardships between God’s people and God’s promise. Just like God had promised the Israelites the land, God has given us promises. We have an inheritance, but we have to obey and receive it. It is like having your education paid for, but you still have to go to class! Tony Evans said, “God’s process for every believer mirrors his process with Israel: deliverance, development, and destiny.”

Courage Through Mentorship

Joshua was Moses’ assistant, and he was a good one! Wherever God put him, he was growing with the assignment. Joshua was called to fight the Amalekites with zero experience or military training, but Moses was up on the mountain praying for him. Thank God for mentors who give you opportunities and pray for you! Moses was a tough act to follow! He talked to God face to face, friend to friend. Joshua was humble. He called Moses “the servant of the LORD” and himself Moses’ servant. As Moses’ assistant, Joshua was faithful and patient. You have to be a follower before you can be a leader. Waiting is hard! But waiting is not wasted time. We are called to serve, learn, and be mentored, understanding that God is preparing us for greater roles.

Courage Through Worship

Joshua experienced the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, drank water from a rock, and ate manna from heaven. He believed God would do it again. The God who parted the Red Sea could part the Jordan! Joshua’s courage was deeply rooted in his relationship with God. Joshua spent time in God’s presence as a young man (Ex. 33:9-11). God’s words to Joshua were clear. In verses 6-9, He tells him to “observe carefully the whole instruction,” to “not turn from it to the right or the left,” and to “meditate on it day and night.” God said, “Then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.” Success is tied to Scripture. Read it. Write it. Memorize it. Obey it. Life is filled with hard choices and an adversary who is determined to stop you. It takes courage that only comes from spending time in worship and in God’s word.

Courage Through Partnership

Joshua also showed courage through partnership. In verses 12-15 we read that he worked with the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. Working with others takes courage. Joshua knew God’s plan for his life was too big to accomplish alone. You will never find happiness in selfishness. Help your brothers come into their inheritance. Jesus told Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not; and after you have been restored strengthen your brothers” (emphasis added). Courage is never selfish. He understood that true strength lies in unity and cooperation. We are called to support each other, to work together, and to ensure that everyone in our circle reaches their full potential.

Courage Through Leadership

Finally, Joshua’s courage is seen in his leadership. God told Joshua, “I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses… No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you” (v. 3-5). The people responded to Joshua saying, “Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go. We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything. Certainly the LORD your God will be with you, as he was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your order and does not obey your words in all that you command him, will be put to death. Above all, be strong and courageous!” (v. 16-18). Joshua had served faithfully, waiting his turn, and learning in the process. The baton had been passed from Moses to Joshua, but a leader is nothing without followers. God put us in this time in history not to be fearful and hide, but to be strong and courageous. God has given us the same promise He gave Moses and Joshua, “Go into all the world…I will be with you even to the end of the age.”

Works Consulted:

Tony Evans Bible Commentary

Be Strong, Wiersbe

Glory Days, Lucado

Courageous Faith, Hindson

Joshua, Keller

Called to be God’s Leader, Blackaby

The Gospel Project, Ethridge


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