Strong and Courageous

Day 77

Prayer for the day

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being. May these words of mine please him.

Scripture for the day

Joshua 1-3, Mark 20

It seems like a litany, running throughout the entirety of the scriptures. Whenever anyone encounters God, or one of God’s angelic emissaries, that person is instructed to put off fear. “Do not be afraid” say the angels. God amplifies this command a bit when it comes to the commissioning of His new servant, Joshua. Not only is Joshua to put off fear, he is to be strong, and courageous.

In fact, God tells him regularly to be strong and courageous. Almost enough that we start to worry whether this fellow is listening.

Joshua is commanded to lead the people of Israel in what will be their most difficult test of trust. They will cross over the river Jordan and take possession of this new land, the land they’d be warned previously was inhabited by giants and full of enormous cities (and fruit).

Joshua is commanded to be strong, not weak, and courageous, rather than fearful. Do not be afraid, says the command of God.

It sounds a lot like the command of the “young man” in the book of Mark who declares the resurrection of Jesus. The women who’ve come to anoint Jesus’ body see him sitting beside or on top of the rolled-away stone, and are rightly frightened. “What happened to Jesus?” they must have thought. But he reassures them with a simple command: “do not be afraid.”

Two groups of people separated by a few centuries or more, but the same command resounding. Do Not Be Afraid. There must be a human connection here. And there is. We’re fearful. We’re afraid when God commands us to do something uncomfortable, afraid when God surprises us, afraid when God answers, and afraid when God answers differently than we expect. We live lives steeped in fear of the unknown, of the known, of the future and the past. And the command rings through the ages:

Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous.

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