Be strong and courageous. DO not fear or be in dread…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
– Deuteronomy 31:6
By Chaplain Jeremy Carr
The past few weeks have been marked by much uncertainty. Healthcare, businesses, families, and schools have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every facet of society has been impacted leaving us to face the uncertain times ahead.
In times of uncertainty we often respond in one of two ways: fear or self-confidence. With fear, we succumb to the unknown with timidity and doubt. With self-confidence, we rely on our own fortitude to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and forge ahead. In the end, both of these responses fall short and can lead us to disappointment and despair. But there is a third way we can respond.
Rather than fear or self-confidence, we may approach these uncertain times with the certainty of Divine grace based on the promises of God and expressed in our Spirit-empowered obedience. We see evidence of this in the Old Testament story of the Exodus. God’s people were enslaved and then set free following many signs and miracles. For decades they wandered in the wilderness riddled with doubt and fear. Toward the end of Moses’ leadership, he prepares to “pass the baton” to his successor Joshua. We catch a glimpse of divine strength and courage in a time of weakness and fear.
In Deuteronomy 31:6, Moses instructs the people to “Be strong and courageous.” He addresses Joshua, his successor, stating “Be strong and courageous” (Deut. 31:7). In both cases the command is of strength and courage based on God’s promises, God’s provision, and God’s presence.
First, Moses recounts God’s promises, “for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it” (Deut. 31:70. Moses’s leadership and the actions of God’s people are fueled by trust that God will fulfill what He has promised to do. Second, Moses remembers God’s provision. In Deut. 31:3-5, Moses reminds the people of the actions God has done to bring about freedom and victory for the people. Third, Moses assures the people of God’s presence:
“The LORD your God himself will go over before you” (Deut. 31:3), “for it is the LORD your God who goes with you” (Deut. 31:6),
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you” (Deut. 31:8).
As it was for God’s people during the Exodus, this is good news for us today. May we recount God’s promises in Scripture. May we remember His provision throughout history and in our own lives. May we rest assured of His presence with us.
Prayer: Lord, may we repent of our fear and of our self-reliance and instead trust in You, the One who fulfills His promises and empowers our obedience to “fear not” and “be strong and courageous.” Amen.
Chaplain Jeremy Carr – PruittHealth Hospice Wilkes