“Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”
Life can be tough! We all go through days of discouragement, illness, heartbreak and loss. If we are not currently facing a tough time, then chances are someone we know is. In my own life, I have experienced three miscarriages, watching my dad battle cancer and it claiming his life, and watching my husband battle diabetes every day. There are many other heartbreaks, loss, betrayals, and experiences that could have had me give up. Walk away from my faith. Turn my back on God. Maybe you are there right now or have been in the past and are still there. Maybe you have cried out, “Why did God let this happen to me?”
My friend, I really can’t answer that question for you. I can’t explain why miscarriages occur or why my dad who was a pastor serving God had to get cancer and die. However, there have also been tough times that, if I am honest with myself, were the result of my own poor choices. Yet still God was with me in each of those. Protecting me. Drawing me back to Him. Loving me with His everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Everlasting. Never-ending. When you love like that, you never walk away.
Joshua 1:9 gives me five reminders:
- When facing difficult times, I can be strong. In fact, there are many verses in the Bible that talks about being strong. Here are just a few:
- Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Isaiah 40:29 says, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
- Isaiah 40:31 says, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
- 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
- Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song, I praise Him
- Habakkuk 3:19 says, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
- When facing difficult times, I can face them with courage. Courage is the ability to do something that we don’t thing we can do or to endure something we don’t think we are able to endure. It is strength in the face of great pain or difficulty. Ephesian 6:10 tells us to “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The reason we are able to have courage in difficult times is because our trust and faith is in God. We can trust in His perfect will and plans for us. When faced with something difficult or unknown, courage is not our natural reaction. However, as we remember that God is always protecting and guiding us, our confidence in Him gives us courage to face difficult times.
- When facing difficult times, I do not have to be afraid. Psalm 27:1 reminds us that “The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid.” Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Abraham could have been afraid when God called him to leave his family behind and go to a land that God would show him, but he would have missed out the adventure of traveling with God. If Joshua and Caleb had allowed fear to rule them like the other spies, they would have never entered the Promised Land. If David had been afraid, he would have never felled the giant, Goliath. If Esther had been afraid to approach her husband, the king, without being summoned, her people would have been annihilated. Daniel could have been afraid when the decree was issued that no one could pray to anyone except the King, but he prayed anyway…three times a day and he witnessed angels who shut the mouths of lions and protected him through the night in the lion’s den. Peter could have let the fear of the storm keep him in the boat, but he had courage to step out when Jesus said, “Come!” and he got to experience walking on water. If Jesus had feared the cross, we would not have eternal life. Whatever you are facing, put your trust in God. He’s got this and he will give you the strength to endure!
- When facing difficult times, I do not have to be dismayed. The word dismayed means discouraged. Isn’t it easy to get discouraged in the midst of difficult times or to become overwhelmed? The Israelites became discouraged when they learned there were giants in the land of Promise. As a result, they were too afraid to take the land and ended up wondering in the wilderness for forty years. Numbers 21:4 says “The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.” The became discouraged because their focus was on themselves and the problems they faced instead of on God and his promises and miraculous provisions. King David became discouraged when he faced the threat of being stoned by his own men because he was more focused on the rejection of men. However, 1 Samuel 30:6 says that he found encouragement in the Lord his God. Elijah, a great man of God who did many miraculous things and so physically and emotionally exhausted that he became discouraged to the point of wanting to die. Nehemiah became discouraged when he saw the work of God going backward (Nehemiah 2:3) in rebuilding Jerusalem. We can learn several things from these examples:
- First, is our situation something that can be changed? If not, is it something God is allowing for His purpose or to shape and grow us?
- Second, we need to keep our eyes on God and not on our circumstances, recognizing that His power will sustain us.
- Third, we need to remember God’s promises. Find verses in the Bible that pertain to your circumstances. Read about people in the Bible who faced similar circumstances and learn how God provided for them.
- Fourth, remember how God has provided or protected you in the past. If he did it before, He can do it again!
- Rejoice. Praise God. Make a list of His attributes and praise him through the circumstance.
- Be willing to wait for God to work things out in His time and allow him to grow your faith in the process.
- Don’t make major decisions based on your discouragement or fear. Pray and seek God’s wisdom and guidance.
- Make good choices in time and money management. Even when we serve God, we can give our all to the point of exhaustion. Self-care is important when our life is spent ministering to others. Also, if we live life outside of our financial means we can become stressed and spend more hours working. We end up living in fear of losing a home, having a care repossessed or worry about just keeping the lights on. Stop “keeping up with the Joneses.” Find ways to live more simply and pay off debts.
- Trust that God is right and good no matter what you are going through. Even if you don’t understand, remember that God says, “For as heave is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” There are simply some things we will not understand or have answers for until we reach heaven, but we can trust that God has our very best in mind, every moment of every day.
- We need to understand that what we may think is a set-back or a closed door is really God’s way of showing us that he has something even better waiting. Why would we want less than God’s best? Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has plans for us. Plans that will prosper us and not bring us harm. Plans that will give us a hope and a future. 1 Peter 5:7 says that we can cast all our care upon Him because He cares for us. How much? Enough to send His only Son to die on the cross for us and then raise Him to life to that we can have eternal life.
- Lastly, even if our circumstances are not changed on this earth, if we have placed our trust in Him, then we know that we have eternal life with Him waiting for us. Psalms 23:4 says, “Yea thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Yes, even in our final moments on earth, God is with us and He will take us to live with Him.
- When facing difficult times, God is always with me. He never walks away. Hebrews 13:5 says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is because God is always with me that I can be strong and have courage. It is because God is with me that I do not have to be afraid or dismayed.
My friend, if God loves us with an everlasting love…enough to let Jesus die for us… then we can live courageously, be strong in the Lord and live without fear. We don’t have to be dismayed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. Change what is within your abilities, and leave the unchangeable to God. Know that He will never leave you and in Him, you can have peace and joy even in the worst of times. Know that He is for you and loves you. Be strong and courageous! God is always with you!