From Fear to Courage

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

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. – Joshua 1:9

Joshua had plenty of reasons to fear. Moses was dead, and God had called Joshua to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. Could Joshua fill Moses’ sandals? Would the Israelites follow his leadership? Could Joshua effectively lead the Israelite army into battle?

But God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous. With so many challenges before him, how could Joshua be strong and courageous?

The answer lies in the second half of the verse, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua would never lead alone. God promised to journey with him.

When danger is real, fear can be helpful. But unhealthy fear, the fear of things that aren’t actually dangerous, can hinder us from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised. Unhealthy fear narrows our vision, crushes creativity, quenches hope and feeds despair. I should know. I’ve wrestled with unhealthy fear all my life. It’s caused me to live small, avoid risks and stay silent when I know I should speak. How about you?

The antidote to unhealthy fear is courage. Courage, like bravery, isn’t the absence of fear. It’s having the confidence to act despite our fear. Like Joshua, we’re called from fear to courage. And courage isn’t something we manufacture. Courage grows in the fertile soil of God’s promise to be with us always.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

When we entrust ourselves to the promise of God’s loving presence we discover the power that transforms our fear to courage.
Want to experience that power for yourself? Memorize the verses above. Hide them in your heart. And the next time you’re tempted to allow fear to control you, let God’s word encourage you.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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