God’s Encouragement or Command?
Have you ever looked at that scripture in Joshua 1:9 and thought, “Yea, right” or ” I’m dealing with 21st-century problems this doesn’t apply to me.” We face the same challenges that people throughout human history have faced. Only the outer trappings have changed; human nature and response to troubles are the same. Joshua 1:9 was God’s command to Joshua when he had to step in Moses’ place and lead Israel. Who would want to try to fill Moses’s shoes? Sea-parting, miracle-working, glowing-faced Moses isn’t an act I’d want to follow. I’m sure Joshua was also concerned if the people would respect him and if he could even hold a candle to Moses. That’s why God encouraged him to be strong and courageous. I find it interesting that God told him to be strong and brave, not merely try. How are we supposed to be strong when we aren’t?
“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 New International Version (NIV)
Pushed and Tested
Throughout the Bible, we see flawed and weak people who worked miracles in their lives and the lives of others. How do we even know if we are strong? Think about a weightlifter. He needs to keep adding weight until he can no longer lift to understand how strong he is. Similarly, we only know the limits of our strength when we are pushed to the limits. What happens when we are overcome and can’t push through? If we know God, this isn’t the worst place to be. We see what God’s when we come to our limits and know that the only way we can do it is through him. Often we don’t have confidence in God until we encounter something impossible, and we see his mighty power acting on our behalf.
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:8-10 New King James Version
When we face trials that are too hard, when we don’t have the stamina, strength, or mental courage, when we have run entirely out of power or are facing the impossible, there’s good news. When we find the end of our abilities, that’s when we find his. We only need to ask and know that when we fail, he is there to help us. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says, he gives us the strength in our sickness, weakness, reproaches, persecutions, and distresses. We don’t have to be strong in ourselves; we only need to turn to him in our weakness, and he will make up for the lack. So the weaknesses that we tend to hate and deny aren’t the worst thing at all. They are a measure of our strength and an opportunity to see the power of God work for us. That’s a win/win situation.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13 English Standard Version
If we are his and we face trouble and trials, we have the assurance that we can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength, even when we are weak, especially then. Why not try this out? If you’re like me, there’s something that will push you to your limit in the next week, maybe the next day. If it’s too much for us, let’s quote Philippians 4:13 out loud while lifting it as a prayer to him inside. It worked for me in cancer, and I need to remember to turn to him in my current trials. I have before and will again turn to him, and he will answer. Our weaknesses aren’t our enemies but opportunities for strength. Be encouraged; weakness isn’t the worst; it could actually be one of the best things we have when we have God in our life.
“He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”Psalm 91:15 New International Version