Moses is dead. He will be missed. He had totally dismantled the most powerful nation of the world–in one week. He also managed to wipe out the Egyptian army with one wave of his rod. He was the human instrument for signs and wonders of colossal proportion never seen before or since on the planet. He took a nation of two million on a hike–for forty years–through barren land. During that time their shoes and clothes did not wear out. They were served up breakfast from heaven every day. He made water flow from a rock two times. He spoke with God face to face on a regular basis.
Now Joshua is taking over. “Okay, go for it, Josh.” Hard act to follow? No. Forty years of hard acts. Joshua is told to take the nation across the river and bring them into a hostile land that would be theirs if they can overcome the nationals who have other plans for them.
God speaks to Joshua, at least hesitant about his job description if not shaking in his sandals: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Really? Don’t be discouraged? With what he has been handed? That is an impossible command. Who could obey it? How could he not give in from time to time? Come to think of it, what command is possible? How about, “Pray without ceasing,” or “Rejoice in the Lord always,” or “Have no anxiety about anything?” Every command of God is an impossibility. If they were not, we could pull of the Christian life without the aid of the Holy Spirit.
It is supernatural from start to finish. Jesus made it clear: “Without me you can do nothing.” “Nothing” is not much. The task was way beyond Joshua’s abilities. How would he handle the thousand issues sure to come up as a nation makes its way across the Jordan and into a foreign land? Ongoing discouragement with daily insurmountable issues would be likely. God spoke to him at the outset to make sure he would not surrender to its subtle invitation, because God knows what discouragement does to us.
Three things about it:
- We make a decision to choose discouragement. We are not required to give into it when the situation at hand seems to suggest that we do. What makes some people cave in causes others to fly higher.
- To choose discouragement means that we are living circumstantially. We are allowing the situations of life to determine the level of our peace and joy. Welcome to the roller coaster life.
- Discouragement takes us out of our primary calling and puts us rather than God on center stage. It is all about us–our problems, our woes, our needs. Think Elijah, clearly on a role after calling down fire from heaven, then eliminating 450 false prophets, then calling for rain following a two-year drought. “Hey, Jezebel, you’re talking to the wrong person.” Sadly, her threat took him out of the main battle into an inferior one–the battle for his life.
Let’s not go there. May we obey an impossible command through the indwelling Holy Spirit and see God use us right in the midst of hardship! Sound good? No more discouragement–ever!