Four years ago, I wrote something to remind myself of God’s goodness in allowing my strength to fail. At the time, we were preparing to go stateside for 18 months. It had been twelve years since we had spent so much time in the US and the thought of that much time spent stateside made all of us nervous. Our youngest daughter had unknown medical needs that seemed to be getting worse and we had to find some answers. Our oldest would be attending college on the East Coast while we would be living out west.
We packed up not knowing what the future had in store for us. We told our friends goodbye. We left our ministry in the hands of others. And, we walked into the unknown. Little did we know, it was the end of our time in a place that we had called home.
Looking back, I can see God weaving it all together. One by one our four older girls revealed a secret that David and I were not willing to accept…yet. They told us that they were confident that God was leading our family to stay stateside. Not one of them wanted it, but they were all willing to submit to that calling. Our business overseas closed and almost every local ministry partner moved away. God was closing those doors. Still, we weren’t ready to hear His call to not return.
Eighteen months came and went. Our youngest daughter’s needs were far greater than we had anticipated and the medical intervention would be ongoing. David and I began to feel peace in staying and knew that God had prepared a ministry for us in Colorado. We didn’t know exactly what life would look like, but we stepped out on faith and resigned as missionaries.
Soon, God would place us in the very ministry that we had always dreaded. David became a stateside pastor and I, a pastor’s wife. He did a lot of heart changing in us and made it a ministry of joy rather than fear.
Four years ago, I was walking in the unknown. I clung to verses that reminded me of God’s presence. I cherished the reminder in Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:9 to be strong, because I felt very weak.
The last few weeks have been tough. I’ve felt the enemy attack and I’ve felt tired, weak, and discouraged. Then today, God sent me a sweet reminder in the form of a four year old note from myself:
Be strong and courageous…a command needed when our strength fails…when circumstances overwhelm and our own strength fails…when we don’t feel strong and don’t desire strength…the command keeps us going. Strength and courage aren’t optional, especially when your tired, overcome, and facing the enemy.
For forty years, the Israelites had wandered because their fear of the new place God was leading them was greater than their faith in God. The people looked at the land and saw hardships. They saw threatening giants. Fear caused them to rebel against God’s plan and so they wandered until a new generation took leadership.
God spoke to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” He repeats this phrase three times as He instructs Joshua to lead the people into the land their parents had rejected. In His charge, God reaffirms His position as an ever present help. He explains to Joshua that He is the one who will give them the land. It isn’t up to Joshua to fulfill God’s plan. God got that. Joshua’s responsibility was obedience.
God knew the people would be afraid. God knew they would encounter difficulties as they marched into the promised land. And, He knows my struggles, too. The same command given to Joshua is given to me. “Be strong and courageous.”
He doesn’t expect me to find the courage within myself, but to recognize the power that lies within all mighty God and is available to me when I walk with Him. My strength comes because my faith is in Him. When I know God is beside me, when I am confident in His ability to fulfill His plan, I am able to stand strong and courageous.
The command isn’t given because the road ahead is easy. It is given because God knows what tomorrow will bring in my life. He knows the friends that will misunderstand and walk away. He knows the blame that will be placed at the feet of the innocent. He knows the heartache which will arise when a loved one takes a destructive path. He knows the loneliness, discouragement, and defeat I feel. But in all of the chaos, His voice is clear, “Be strong and courageous.”