Josh had experienced much turmoil and strife during his current job assignment. There was frequent upheaval among his peers against current management. Those efforts, fortunately, had been squelched. As a result of that effort, many of his team members suffered great loss and were not allowed to move forward with the organization.
Earlier in his career, Josh was chosen to be part of a special team to evaluate next steps for his organization. Because of Josh’s loyalty and his credentials, he was now a candidate for a new opportunity.
Because of the earlier “coup attempt”, many of the older, seasoned members were no longer there. What remained was a young and inexperienced group, who needed guidance and support in moving the organization to new heights that had been promised to them.
And now, he was being offered a promotion as head of the organization. But was he ready? What did he need to move forward? Was there an opportunity in this uncertainty? These were possible questions asked by Moses’ replacement, Joshua (Deut. 31:7).
Ready for an opportunity?
How would we respond if offered the opportunity set before Joshua? That was the question I asked myself during my morning devotion as I read Deuteronomy 31:1-8 and Joshua 1:1-18. In both scripture texts, Joshua is repeatedly told several things that would prepare him for his new leadership role.
The first dealt specifically with his reaction to the opportunity. What were the emotions he felt knowing what lie ahead of him? Joshua was told to “be strong, fear not, and be of good courage” (Joshua 1:6-9). But how was he to do that?
He had seen Moses as he dealt with this group of stiff-necked and disobedient people. He remembered the frustration that Moses often felt in trying to keep them faithful to God and His commandments. Moses was the great mediator between these people and Yahweh, Almighty God. Would he be able to do the same?
Fear or dismay?
As I studied these texts, I asked myself (and my husband) this question. Which is worst—fear or dismay (discouragement)? Is there a difference? Fear is anxiety caused by approaching danger—real or imagined. Discouragement is described as depression of one’s spirit. It can be caused by a heavy burden, defeat, an apparent failure, or even sickness.
Both fear and discouragement would be unique challenges that Joshua would need to manage as he moved forward. Both could potentially lead to failure in Joshua’s assignment to take the Israelites into the Promise Land. And not only entrance into the land that God promised, but to also conquer the current inhabitants.
Fear or discouragement? Which one is our biggest threat as we face the challenges of living in these times of uncertainty? How are we to manage the stresses of life that come both rapidly, continuously, and often violently?
Fear and discouragement are Satan’s “weapons of choice” to hinder and even stop us as we move into God’s purpose for our life. Satan will often focus on the largeness of the problem and/or the smallness of our ability to stop us in our tracks.
That’s why we need the intervention of Someone who is bigger than the problem and able to do exceedingly above all that we can ask or need (Eph. 3:20). That Someone is God our Father, made available through His Son Jesus the Christ, and made manifest in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
In his new leadership role, it was critical that Joshua remembered what God had promised: It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you (Deut. 31:8).
Despite the difficult times experienced living in the Wilderness, Joshua saw firsthand God’s love and faithfulness to His people. God had chosen Israel to be His treasure (Deut. 7:6) and He would make good on every promise He made to them (Joshua 1:5-7).
Joshua had seen God’s great power as evidenced through His miracles and works: The ten plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and God’s provision during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness (Deut. 8:3-4). God’s promise to Moses was the same promise He now made to Joshua: God would go before him and with him. God would not fail nor forsake him.
We daily face changes and challenges, turmoil, and threats. They are as great and as real, for us, as Joshua’s new leadership opportunity. But like Joshua, we can rest assured that we can depend on and trust in the promises of God. God goes before us and with us, wherever the circumstances of life may lead us (Heb. 13:5).
God is more than able to handle whatever may come our way. He is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning, and the ending…which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). It is in His presence, and under His authority that all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). So be not afraid nor be dismayed, we are not alone. There is always opportunity even amid uncertainty when God is with us.