When was the last time someone said to you, “I will not fail thee; nor forsake thee?” Go ahead, I’ll wait. I’ll take never for 1000 Alex! I never heard it uttered from my mother, my first or second husband, no teachers from elementary through graduate school, no supervisor, colleague or employee, no Sunday School congregants and not my Bishop or previous Pastors. So why then are we surprised when people disappoint us or fall short of living up to an expectation that they nor I was ever empowered to meet? Now don’t get me wrong, I expect a lot from those close to me, because I know the level of engagement and effort I give. Yet even in what I consider my best or ideal, falls short in comparison to God.
Joshua was being directed by God as he assumed the mantle that had been granted to Moses (Read Joshua I). As he set forth in leading the Israelites, God promised to not fail him nor forsake thee. Something tells me this God sized promise is not limited to Joshua only. When was the last time you petitioned God to not fail you? If I use my spiritual imagination, I must assume God intuitively knew that Joshua was nervous about assuming Moses’ place. If the person before you has performed sub par, one’s anxiety may not be heightened, but if they were stellar, in that they fought off plagues, took mounds of gold, and led an entire people out of 400 years of oppression and slavery under an angry regime, one might be slightly concerned as to whether the’ve got the chops.
Interestingly enough, after God told Joshua He would be with him, it was as though God knew that would not be sufficient. He told Joshua to be strong and of good courage (v6); then only be thou strong and very courageous (v7) and finally, “be strong and of good courage, this time adding, “be not afraid” (v9). Why do you suppose God told Joshua that he should not be afraid? Even with God declaring that He would not fail him, and instructing him to be strong and courageous three times, He still knew that fear was present. As God walks with us, because we are His creation, He understands that circumstances have either disappointed or impacted us such to the extent that we’ve developed fear. And even as the nearby saints declare, “God has not given a spirit of fear,” it doesn’t mean that something else has. Fear is real or at least it presents to be. And no matter how others attempt to convince us otherwise, and no matter how people remind us of our strength and courage, the only entity that can meet us at our fear, is the one who constructs our faith.
Joshua is a model for us. He has demonstrated commitment and yet he questions his ability. When we are concerned about our next, we can access the one who initiated our beginning. Joshua didn’t wait for his fear to subside, he moved with it being very much pronounced and prominent. Yet he had a promise attached to his fear. Our problems may not be those that the Israelites faced. We may not have a Joshua to lead us either, but we have a promise from God to not fail us and his inability to fail supersedes our fear.God’s declaration to Joshua, of being “only strong and of good courage,” is for us. The “only” demonstrates that we have alternative options at our disposal, but we must choose the arsenal that God has extended. As we face whatever concerns us, let us remember the promise, God will not fail. Thankfully, failure is not an option.