What does courage have to do with anxiety? Everything! Courage is not something that just comes naturally. The very definition of courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. Courage must happen in the presence of fear or anxiety. Otherwise, it isn’t courage.
Joshua 1 is a wonderful chapter for any of us who struggle with anxiety. Joshua is beginning a new chapter of his ministry to the people of Israel. He had been working with Moses for years! He was in a leadership role for years before that. He was one of the 12 young men chosen to go check out the Promised Land to see if Israel should go into it. Only he and Caleb came back with a positive report. Yes, they saw the enemies. But they also knew the powerful God they served. They believed the promises He had made to them. The other 10 men came back weeping. Yes, the Promised Land was beautiful and plentiful. But the enemies were too big. Israel was too weak.
Sadly, the people listened to the 10 and instead of taking 11 days to get to the Promised Land from where they were, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness while a whole generation died off as punishment for their unbelief! Only Joshua and Caleb survived. Moses did too, and wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land, but for other reasons.
Joshua learned that he could have courage only because the God of Israel was with Him.
Joshua was definitely not a Pollyanna. He realized the enemies they faced were huge. He just knew that the God of Israel was much bigger than the enemies Israel was facing in the years ahead. He also knew the people he was leading. He had worked with Moses a long time. He had a formidable job ahead.
In fact, he may have had some problems with anxiety himself. Look at all the times God tells him not to fear or be dismayed or be troubled, in that one chapter. In fact, God tells him to be courageous. This man who had led armies into battles for years! But God was reminding Joshua again of something Joshua must have known. Unless God is with us, we have everything to fear. It is only because He is with us that we can move ahead with courage toward the challenges that God sends our way.
Just as with Joshua, we don’t know what lies ahead. We do know the God who is with us.
That is what is so hopeful about this verse and so many of the verses in this chapter. If we have trusted Christ for our salvation, we know the God who can give us the courage needed to face the challenges ahead. Will we get sick? Will our loved one get ill? Will we need to care for them? Will they pass away soon? Will we get sick? We don’t know what the future holds.
We do know that God is with us if we are His child. He will care for us no matter what happens. He will provide what we need when the time comes. He is a good God. He loves His children. He does what is best for each of us but it is the best thing from His perspective, not always from ours.
“God answers our prayers the way we ask or the way
we would have asked if we knew everything He does.”
Who God is, is basic to the anxious person. Who is she trusting with her cares and anxieties? Does He care for her best?
He has an eternal perspective. We don’t. He has a perspective that tells Him what is best for each of His children and what will make them best and happiest over the long range, not the short one.
He is also a sovereign God. He is sovereign over every event in our lives as well as in the world around us. It can be difficult to believe that when the world seems to be falling apart, but it is true. The thing that moved me to believing this was the truth is that if He is God, He must be allowed to be who He is. A true and good God is going to be in charge of His universe and the people in it. He can’t be at the mercy of our decisions, waiting for our decisions to be made before he knows what to do.
Even Satan can only be allowed to go so far in the evil God will allow him to wage, but God has him on a leash. Satan can’t go beyond the point of that leash. It all can look very chaotic from our perspective. But from God’s, there is order and a plan to all of it. A day is coming when we will understand how it all worked out.
He is the Creator. Psalm 139 tells us that He created her in her mother’s womb–vs.13. He has known her from the moment she was conceived–vs.15-16. No one knows us this well. His many thoughts toward us are described as precious–vs.17-18. And you can read many other thoughts as well.
(It might help to know that Hebrew poetry does not rhyme, but is in the form of couplets and either builds on the first idea, contrasts with it or repeats it with a parallel idea. Learning this opened up the Psalms and many of the other Old Testament poetic passages in a new way.)
- Look over the Joshua 1 passage. It may even whet your appetite to read the book. It is a fast moving book of all the adventures God led Joshua and Israel on as they conquered the Promised Land, trusting God to overcome God’s enemies. What do you learn about anxiety, courage, God’s promises, and trusting God, in Joshua 1? Jot it down.
- Specifically, what do you need to learn for yourself and the anxiety you are dealing with now? Jot it down.
- Are there aspects of prayer that can apply here for you? Jot it down.
- What helps did you receive today for your anxiety to move forward with courage, knowing God is with you and that His thoughts toward you are precious? Jot them down.
- Is there someone you can share some of this with to encourage them during a period of life they are going through now either by way of writing a note or talking to them in person? Jot it down. Often sharing things we learn by way of encouragement, helps us remember them better.