“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.”Joshua 1:9
Joshua was a servant of the Lord whose life was characterized by great spiritual courage. As one reflects on his life, it is difficult to select the most notable example of this quality. Joshua demonstrated great courage as a young man when he led Israel into battle against the Amalekites while Moses oversaw the conflict from the hill above, lifting high the staff of God with the assistance of Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:8-16). Joshua showed courage when he and Caleb stood alone among two million fearful Israelites, pleading with them to follow God into the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). His courage would become legendary after he led a nation of sojourners in an unorthodox siege of the walled city of Jericho, called upon the Lord to make the sun stand still so his forces could vanquish the Amorites, and routed a coalition of five enemy armies (Joshua 6, 10, 11).
Joshua’s courage did not emanate from his own personal strength. Instead, his seemingly superhuman courage was founded upon the supernatural—an unwavering faith in the Lord God Almighty. God’s charge to be strong and courageous was accompanied by His promise that He would always be with Joshua and His people. Thus, it was Joshua’s full confidence in the Lord, no matter the circumstance, that fortified him to face every challenge.
This type of spiritual courage may best be reflected, not in the triumphs of the conquest, but in a quiet moment alongside the Jordan River. Joshua had recently assumed the mantle of leadership from Moses. Having refused to heed Joshua’s advice 40 years earlier, Israelhad wandered in the wilderness until an entire generation passed away. It was time for Joshua to lead their children into the Promised Land. But Joshua found himself facing the raging torrents of the Jordan. How could he lead Israel to face this challenge? Would he be defeated before his work even began?
In resolute faith, Joshua trusted that God would help him overcome this apparently insurmountable obstacle. And God was faithful. Just as He had parted the waters of the Red Sea, He parted the waters of the Jordan, went before His people, and led them to the other side.
It was there, standing before the rushing waters of the Jordan, that Joshua confidently placed his faith in the Lord to see him through. It is in these moments that we too can trust that God is with us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. Phillip Keller states it well:
“For all of us there are bound to be formidable ‘floods’ in the stream of life. Just as Joshua and Israel faced a raging river that overflowed its banks and inundated its flood plain, so will we. God does not try to hold us back from the rampaging currents of life. He does not ask us to retreat or withdraw from that threat which would seem to engulf us. He does not urge us to try and find some way around the apparently impossible barriers before us. Rather, He asks us to believe quietly that:
It is He who brought us here.
It is He who will keep us and preserve us here.
It is He who will take us on from here.
This is faith in action.”