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25th November: Courage -- For What?

Be strong and of good courage; for the Lord thy God is with thee. Jos 1:9 (AV)

Joshua had probably one of the most difficult jobs ever -- that of continuing where Moses left off. One of the greatest leaders of all time had, for 40 years or more, taken half a million people through the wanderings of the desert and to the promised land. The people had caused him endless problems and difficulties, so that at times he despaired. Yet he remained confident that God was with him through it all, despite the golden calf, despite the murmurings, despite their hankering to return to Egypt. Moses had taken the people as far as the eastern side of the Jordan when he died. To Joshua was given the commission to lead them across the river, to fight and oust the people of Canaan and to occupy their villages and towns, their lands and their homes. To do this with a well trained and equipped army would have required nerves of steel, to do it with a motley crowd of young and old men, women and children would have taxed the heart of the stoutest, but to follow on where Moses had left off must surely have been the greatest challenge of all. That is why, several times, Joshua was given the promise that he would be victorious, if only he for his part were to be strong and very courageous. He took God at his word and received the strength which he needed. The cities were overthrown, and the walls of Jericho fell down, Joshua was a man with a purpose.

We too as believers have a commission in life, and the command given to Joshua holds true for us. We are called not to lead an army but to heal the sick, cheer the weak, strengthen the faint-hearted, comfort those in trouble, `by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God' (2 Cor 1:4). The doctor has to do many a daunting thing in his life -- to tell a wife that her husband has an insurable disease, to tell a newly delivered mother and her husband that their baby has Down's syndrome, to tell a man that he has a carcinoma, or to answer the question of a boy with muscular dystrophy -- `Am I going to die?'. The temptation so often is to avoid the issue. But when the Christian doctor speaks to a patient or a relative, he is going at the command of the Lord, and he must ask for courage, strength and wisdom together with the compassion of the Saviour. His prayer beforehand doesn't take away his fear of the assignment, but it does give him an assurance of God's resources. These may indeed be consciously felt but they can only be measured in eternity.

Lord, I know that it is part of my humanity to be afraid. May I
learn, like the psalmist (Ps 56:3), when I am afraid to put my trust in thee,
so that one day I shall be able to do something better,
`to trust and not be afraid!' (Is 12:2).

Further reading: Dn 1:17-20. Jas 1:5-8.


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