Do you ever feel like God is beating you over the head with something? Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be quite a few situations in my life when hearing something one time just isn’t going to cut it. I have to hear it over and over and over again before it will finally stick.
Lately, it has been the phrase, “be strong and courageous.”
The phrase is inside of my daughters’ favorite memory verse: Deuteronomy 31:6. The girls have been saying a paraphrased version of this verse, complete with hand movements, for the past year now. Every time they get a new verse to memorize at church, they still want to practice this one. I hear it so much that I’m sure to never forget it.
Well, recently, I went to pull up my Bible app on my phone and saw the verse of the day. Turns out, Joshua 1:6-9 uses this phrase multiple times. I thought that was pretty cool, so I did a quick search and learned that the exact wording “be strong and courageous” shows up in the NIV 11 times and the NLT 14 times.
I deemed my findings nifty and went about my day.
I later I heard the verse of the day on my Christian radio station. “Huh,” I thought to myself, “That’s a neat coincidence. I wonder if the verse of the day on my Bible app and radio station are always the same?”
And then, that day, and also several days later, I saw friends posting about one of these “be strong and courageous” verses on social media. Some of them posted a simple graphic. Some of them wrote out the verse. Some of them gave a brief summary.
Even more so, I saw it referenced in a book I’m reading. And it came up in a devotional I use. And it also happened to be included in a One Year Bible reading.
It was like I couldn’t escape it. Obviously, God was telling me to be strong and courageous. Not being entirely sure what that meant, I knew it was time to dig a little deeper. When the phrase, “be strong and courageous,” is used, what is the context? What is the intended purpose? The result?
Here is a bit about what I have discovered and am still figuring out:
In the Old Testament, God frequently commanded His people to be “strong and courageous” because…
…God would personally go ahead of them. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
…they were going to be leaders and give direction. (Deuteronomy 31:7;23; Joshua 1:6)
…they needed to follow His commands. By doing so, they would be successful in everything they did. (Joshua 1:7; 1 Chronicles 22:13)
…God would be with them wherever they went. (Joshua 1:9)
…it could save their lives. (Joshua 1:18)
…God would vindicate them against their enemies. (Joshua 1:25)
…He wouldn’t fail them. (1 Chronicles 28:20)
…there would be a reward for their work. (2 Chronicles 15:7)
…the greater power (God) was on their side (2 Chronicles 32:7)
…God would protect those loyal to Him. (Psalm 31:23-24)
…God would do what He said He would do. (Ezekiel 22:14)
After looking through all of these references, I think I’ve figured something out. In each of these situations in the Bible, God had given commands to His people. He had told them what to do. How to live their lives. Where to go. And you know what? Sometimes it was really hard for them.
I think that’s exactly where God has me. He has given me His Word, the Bible. I know His commands. For the most part, I feel like I know how He wants me to live and where I am called to serve. But sometimes, it gets really hard. Being a stay-at-home mom and wife of a pastor can be challenging at times.
Here is the reminder: I can be strong and courageous in the tough moments, because I know His promises. He will take care of me. Ultimately, as I continue the constant surrender of my life over to His teachings, I can trust that it will all be worth it. There is a reward in the end. This life is only temporary and I am on the side that gets the final victory. God is going before me and He is going with me. I’m not in this alone.
The same goes for you too. Hold fast. Remain steady. He’s got this, and that means you do too.
“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; NIV; emphasis mine)