Be strong, brave, and courageous. Every morning when we wake up, or whenever we face challenges, even feel devastated, that is what we have to tell ourselves first. That is what the Lord commanded Joshua after the death of Moses.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.Joshua 1:9
But it’s easier said than done. The problem is that we can’t be strong and brave even if we know we must be so. How can we convince ourselves so, facing various challenges and difficulties? In reality, what we see in ourselves is constant fear and anxiety. How can we overcome them and become strong, brave, and courageous?
One thing we have to know is that both fear and anxiety are part of the necessary condition for us to be truly strong, brave, and courageous. Moreover, without this condition, we can never find the real value of our strength, bravery, and courage.
When Moses passed away, probably Joshua faced full of fear and anxiety. He knew he could never take over Moses’ achievements, brought the people of Israel from Egypt and in the wilderness where he did a lot of great miracles and wrote the great books of the law. Perhaps, Joshua must have said to himself, “I am not Moses!”
He did not have any self-confidence, not being able to believe in himself. He faced full of fear and anxiety. Most of us are also like Joshua. Consciously or subconsciously, we keep on talking to ourselves, “I am not the one. Someone better should do it.” And we always indulge ourselves with the state of fear and anxiety.
What Joshua should have known, however, is Moses was also like fearful Jushua in the beginning. When the Lord talked to Moses, he did not believe in himself, either.
And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.Exodus 4:1-2
In the beginning, Moses never imagined that the people of Israel would listen to him. And the Lord handed him the rod to show the miracles to let them believe in Moses.
Moses also thought he was a poor speaker. He never imagined that his speech could influence the people of Israel. Like most of us, public speaking was one of the most fearful acts, even for Moses.
And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.Exodus 4:10-12
And the Lord encouraged Moses, saying, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”
Even with His encouragement, Moses was still unable to believe in himself, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses. And finally, the Lord “assigned” Aaron for the part of “speaking.”
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.Exodus 4:14-16
It’s interesting to see Moses also faced full of fear and anxiety due to lack of his self-confidence, despite the encouragement and advice of the Lord.
However, what is important here is that even Moses faced fear and anxiety, so does Joshua, and so does anyone else. We all of us face them. That is part of our human nature. Otherwise, we could never see the real value of being strong, brave, and courageous. As well-known, courage is not the absence of fear but acting in spite of it.
Only when we decide to move forward despite our fear and anxiety, we can be brave and courageous. And if so, what makes us moving forward? What keeps us acting and going?
For Moses, that is the constant communication with the Lord. Because of it, he became strong and brave. Because of it, he brought the people of Israel from Egypt, wrote up the great books of the law, including the Ten Commandments, and stayed in the wilderness for forty years with the people of Israel.
In the case of Joshua, the Lord commanded him as follows:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.Joshua 1:8
This command is also applicable to us. Keep the Words of God in our mouth, and meditate on them day and night. Observe them accordingly. In so doing, we can see the reality of His presence just like Moses had sensed Him in his constant dialogues since the initial encounter when the Lord said, “I AM THAT I AM.”
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.Exodus 3:13-14
We can never erase the sense of fear and anxiety as it is the fundamental state of our existence. If we indulge ourselves with them, we tend to overthink and stop moving forward, becoming apathetic like a living dead, or else restless with a fight or flight response. Either way is destructive.
We can be strong, brave, and courageous by embracing a sense of fear and anxiety. How can we be? We could be so by seeing the presence of the Lord like Moses did, and by meditating on His Words like Joshua did. They knew they are poor in spirit, so they surrendered themselves to Him. We are fearful because of the lack of our faith. But we could be truly “fearful” because of our faith, which makes us genuinely strong, brave, and courageous.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.Proverbs 9:10
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