“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
Moses is speaking to the Israelites, reassuring them as he prepares to hand over leadership to Joshua. He knows he soon will die, and the Israelites must go on without him, sure of God’s presence and power in their lives.
Joshua will have to lead the people across the Jordan into Canaan, and into war. For the next six or seven years they will face a state of almost constant military campaigning, hardship and death. It can be easy to read this as solely a historic, Biblical account of the people of Israel.
But, while most of us will never have to launch a military campaign under new leadership in Canaan, it’s almost certain we will, at some point in our lives, face new and uncertain circumstances. We will, figuratively speaking, have to march into new and unknown territory.
A new job. The end of an old relationship, or starting a new one. The birth of a child. Marriage. Divorce. Watching your child leave home as an adult. The death of a loved one. Our own impending death. We’ll all face something like these circumstances, and they can leave us feeling like the Israelites on the banks of the Jordan: alone, afraid, and unprepared for the very uncertain future before us.
But, just like those Israelites, we are told to be strong and courageous. Whatever our Canaan is, God tells us we won’t be alone as we face it, that He will walk with us through anything this world can throw at us.
God’s love for us isn’t defined by or dependent on our circumstances. Our circumstances — or, more rightly, how we perceive and live through our circumstances — are defined by how well believe these words: “the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Lord God, help us today to be strong and courageous in our faith, no matter what difficulties or setbacks we may face, to know you are walking with us, and leading us to our final victory, which surpasses all concerns of this world; through our savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.