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.
- Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you?”
Is it just me, or is anyone else a little tripped-up by the first sentence in our verse? “Have I not commanded you?” Commanded??? A command isn’t just a suggestion, or an encouragement. It’s more like a rule, an important one that you MUST follow. Which is fine, it’s God’s good prerogative to give us healthy boundaries and rules to live within. Okay, but here’s the part that gets me: the command in our verse doesn't feel like a normal rule, like don’t lie or steal. Rather, it seems more like God is setting up a rule about feelings. Being brave and strong, and not being afraid or discouraged are really just emotional responses to our situations, right?
So, my question is this: how can God command these things? And, how can Joshua (and we, in our own turn) actually do this? Is it just a show we must put on?
So, I am a straight up nerd. And, I actually love when the Bible gets a bit tricky, when I have to really chew on a passage in order to understand it. So, after much “chewing”, I think I’ve come up with a good answer to our conundrum:
IT'S A TRUST ISSUE.
Again and again, God commands his people to trust him－trust that he is good, that he’s in control, that his ways are best, trust that he loves us and takes care of us, and so on. When we are trusting God, really trusting him with our lives, situations, and outcomes, THEN our hearts will naturally overflow with these emotional responses.
Let me show you how this plays out practically and encourage (not command) you to live this way:
WHEN YOU ARE TRUSTING GOD, YOU CAN DO THESE THINGS:
- BE STRONG. He will gives you strength and fortitude out of his own boundless resources to meet the task at hand.
- BE COURAGEOUS. The God of the universe has your back.
- BE FEARLESS. God is your great Defender, what can anyone do to harm you?
- BE ENCOURAGED. How can you be otherwise?
Do you see? God is commanding these emotional responses not because he intends for us to fake them, but because he knows these are just the natural responses we have when we TRUST HIM.
- How can you trust God more in your own situation?
- How will trusting God change your emotional responses to your particular situation? (i.e. courage vs. fear)