Prayer and Reflection: Be Strong and Courageous
In these days when it is normal to feel fear, be anxious, let us not condemn ourselves for having these feelings but let use choose to use our feelings (whatever they may be) to usher our souls into the presence of the God who is with us and within us rather than our feelings taking us to despair. We cannot control what we feel but we can chose where these feelings take us and that makes a HUGE difference for if it is toward God we can find hope, a level of peace that can bring ability to trust and rest in the goodness and love of God and if it is away from God then fear, despair, can fill our drain our soul of life, creativity, the ability to love others.
In this time of dire news and ever shifting realities our faith can falter becoming fractured by fear or it can flourish. If we turn our attention to God, choosing to use whatever we may be feeling as prompts to prayers ushering us into the presence of the One who is present to us and within us we can know a measure of love, grace, hope even peace in the midst of such times.
To help you to begin to use the dire news of our day as prompts to take you to God I invite you to read and reflect on the passage below and all that follows it. The truths of this passage can help each of us to keep our focus on the Triune God and not fear. So let's get to it.
6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
The above passage records some of God's words to Joshua immediately preceding Israel's new challenge of faith and the words the strong and courageous (v.6, 7 and 9) are the heart of God's message to Joshua. These two words are linked together and found three times in four verses and have something to say to us. SO lets take a closer look at these two words.
The word used here for strength does not convey the strength of the individual but the strength that comes from binding someone or something to something other than itself. An example would be the lashing of a sailor to the wheel of a ship or mast in the midst of a storm. Once the sailor is fastened to the wheel/mast they now become as strong as that which they are bound to and the force of the waves, although much stronger than the sailor, are not able to sweep them over the side or deter them from their duties. This is the type of strength that is spoken of in this passage.
The second word, courage, speaks of an individual who is a resolute of mind, one intently focused on a particular object, truth or person.
So then the question arises what is it that God is telling Joshua (us) to bind himself/ourselves to and focus intently upon? The answer:
the promises of God v. 6
the word of God v. 7
the presence/person of God v. 9
I invite you to take some time over the next several days to prayerfully consider and interact with the following questions.
1. What are three promises of God that you need to bind yourself to and focus
2. What are three passages of scripture you need to bind yourself to and focus intently upon?
3. What are three characteristics of Gods character that you need to bind yourself to and focus intently upon?
Once you have written your responses to the above questions take some time to write a psalm and/or prayer that weaves together, all or most, of your above answers? PLEASE read note below.
NOTE: As you write your psalm/prayer please do so in a free and playful way that is absence of judgement or self-condemnation.
Once you have your psalm/prayer written print it out and place it somewhere were you can see it so your words can remind you of the truths that foster strength and courage in your soul, that serve to turn your thoughts, feelings, attention to God, that help you to fix your eyes on Jesus in the midst of the wind and waves of what we are currently experiencing.
These truths will help you to choose to use your feelings, whatever they may be, to usher your soul into the presence of the God where you find life, love, grace rather than your feelings fostering fear and despair.
Christ have mercy.
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