If you know much about WWII, then you know one of the most terrible battles of this terrible war was fought in Bastogne, France. It was the dead of winter and German forces had surrounded the town of Bastogne. Conditions inside the perimeter were perhaps the most miserable of the entire war. The American soldiers were outnumbered and lacking in cold-weather gear, ammunition, food and medical supplies. Due to some of the worst winter weather in years, the American soldiers could not be resupplied by air, and tactical support was nonexistent. They faced a seemingly insurmountable battle. Despite daily German attacks, however, they fought and held their ground. Eventually, the weather broke, the German perimeter was overtaken, and allied forces won the battle.
This story resonates strongly with me, because I believe it to be one of the greatest illustrations and examples of courage. Joshua 1:9 says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Most of us will never face a literal battlefield. But, we do face challenges from time to time. We face trials. We know that life is not always easy. James says to count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, not if you meet them. So, we know that trials will come. However, when life presents a challenge, we are sometimes tempted to give in to fear and to worry, but we should not do this. These attitudes are not Christian attitudes. Luke 12:22 says “do not be anxious about your life.” In other words, don’t worry. Instead, be strong and courageous.
Joshua needed to be courageous because God knew that he was going to face difficult circumstances. Besides being the leader of the nation of Israel, Joshua was commanded to lead his army into Canaan and drive out the people who lived there. There is no doubt Joshua’s people remembered the stories from the previous generation of giants living in this land.
By all human standards, Joshua faced an insurmountable uphill battle. Joshua had every reason to give in to fear and worry, but God encouraged him: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua and his people had the one on their side that would tip the scales in their favor, and so their success would not be a matter of strength and courage alone, but a matter of strength and courage that came from the knowledge that God was with them.
The wonderful thing about God’s promise to Joshua is that it still applies to us today. In Matthew 28:20, after Jesus gives the Great Commission, he promises: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Romans 28:31 asks rhetorically: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Hebrews 13:5-6 commands us to “be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Therefore, we can very boldly say, “the Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man can do to me!”
God made a promise to Joshua, and he makes a promise to us. This promise is constant, and it will never change. We can be strong and courageous because he promises be with us wherever we go.
The variable in the equation is us. We have a choice, and we choose to walk in step with God or we choose to succumb to fear and unbelief and walk hand in hand with the world. Colossians 2:6 says: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.”
One of my favorite verses is Joshua 24:15: “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Our choices – good or bad – have far reaching consequences. I challenge you to choose Christ.