I remember standing over my toddler’s crib as she screamed in her sleep. Bless her little heart, she was having a nightmare so I didn’t want to jar her awake by picking her up. It hurt to see that her little eyes were screwed shut while juicy teardrops clung to her soaked eyelashes. Each sharp cry bounced off each wall before slamming into my aching mother’s heart.
I leaned over her crib to rub her back and soothe her pain. I cooed soft words toward her little ears.
Shhhhh, don’t cry, sweetheart. Mama is right here.
Shhhhh, don’t cry. You’re safe. You’re going to be okay.
It broke my heart that she couldn’t hear my comforting words because of the fearful cries. As her mother, I knew that she didn’t have anything to fear because I was watching over her. It’s hurt to see her in pain, but I knew that she couldn’t receive the comfort until she was ready to stop crying.
I wonder if the sound of our cries often drowns out the comforting words and promises that God wants us to hear from Him? In times of hardship or pain, our fears can make us forget that God is near and watching out for us.
In Joshua 1, the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land. I’m sure that they had a lot of questions and concerns about what would happen next. Afterall, they’d heard about the giants and powerful enemies living in the land. I’m sure that a few people let their imaginations run wild, likely resulting in some anxious thoughts or fears. In fact, those fears led the previous generation to rebel against God many years before.
Yet, God speaks a series of powerful reminders about victory to their new leader, Joshua. In fact, there’s a well-known phrase that God repeats to Joshua. God uses the phrase “be strong and courageous” three times in Joshua 1:6-7 and 9. That phrase also pops up in various other scripture verses, too.
Here’s what God proclaims to Joshua in verse 9: “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Before Joshua and the Israelites ever set one foot in the Promised Land, God promised them of His power and presence in their lives. This meant that even in the moments when they couldn’t feel God, He was there. Furthermore, even when their circumstances looked messy or they made mistakes, God was still here. Most of all, even in their darkest hours, God would still be there.
This is such an encouragement to us, isn’t it?! Especially since there are times in life when we feel like we’re lost, alone or in the middle of nightmare, God’s power and presence are with us giving us the ability to be strong and courageous in our circumstances.
For me, the practical application comes down to something that I write about in my Joshua Bible Study: The difference between worry and worship is WHO I’m talking to. The most powerful way to flip from fear to faith is to tackle every “what, if “ fear that keeps us up at night and instead pray with a “God, if…” faith that connects us to God’s power, presence and ultimately His victory!