The 20 Verses You Love Most

The 20 Verses You Love Most: #13 Strong and Brave

The 20 Verses You Love Most | Liz Curtis Higgs

When I feel weak, uncertain, vulnerable, the last thing I want is someone telling me, “Be strong!” That’s like saying to spaghetti, “Stand up!”

Even fresh out of the box, those dry, slender strands can’t perch on end.


Go ahead, shout out all the affirming words you can think of. “Get up!” “You can do it!” “I believe in you!”

Not happening. Pasta down.

But let a Master Chef step into the picture, and everything changes. The spaghetti is easily held upright, secure in his grip.

Spaghetti in Hand

That’s the essence of this week’s favorite verse: not, you can be strong and brave if you try. Rather, you are strong and brave for one reason: God is with you.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

Tanya was one of many who chose this verse: “It is like he knows how I am feeling and letting me know he is right there with me, giving me strength and courage, calming my fears and giving me encouragement.” Yes, he is.

Another sister, Gay, admitted “I have a tendency to fear. The realization that God is with me, and will never leave me, brings great comfort.” Yes, it does.

Joshua 1:9 is a quotable quote from God, who speaks these words to Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man. Now that Moses has died, God tells Joshua to lead his people across the Jordan River into Israel.

The words God used to empower his servant, Joshua, are meant to strengthen our hearts today. We’re listening, Lord.

Bible Open to Joshua 1

“Have I not commanded you?” Joshua 1:9

No doubt who’s in charge, right? Joshua may be leading the people, but God is leading Joshua. “Haven’t I ordered you” (CJB), the Lord asks. “Did I not command you?” (LEB)

If our strength comes from his strength—and it does—then this reminder of his authority is the right place to begin. Yes, God is our comforter, but he is also our Commander in Chief. He has every right to say, “that is what I ask of thee” (KNOX).

God has made this request of Joshua twice before, in verses 6 and 7, which is why this phrase is sometimes translated, “remember” (ERV) or “I repeat” (NET).

So, what is this message God wants to make sure Joshua hears—and we hear—loud and clear?

Woman Lifting Weights

“Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 1:9

Two powerful words. “Strength! Courage!” (MSG) We could look at them separately, but the truth is, they’re meant to go together. God calls us to be “determined and confident!” (GNT), to be “strong and brave! (NET), to “have strength of heart!” (NLV)

Lots of exclamation points here. God means this. He also makes this possible.

God is the one doing the heavy lifting. He is the muscle, the tendons, the sinew. The power and strength are his alone.

He can command us to be, as the Hebrew says, “stout, strong, bold, alert” because he is all those things and more.

However physically strong this female body builder may be, eventually she’ll have to lower those weights to the floor. But God never lets go. God never gives up.

When we come to the end of ourselves, God is just getting started.

“Do not be afraid;…” Joshua 1:9

God’s people don’t know what they’ll find on the other side of the Jordan River. Naturally, they’re afraid. But supernaturally, they don’t need to be.

God is already in Israel, waiting to welcome them home.

What was true for his people thousands of years ago is true for us now.

God not only knows our future, he not only holds our future, he is our future. That’s why he tells us, “Don’t be alarmed” (CEB) and “don’t be timid” (MSG). That’s why he commands us not to “tremble” (NASB) or “be terrified” (NIRV).

When I first began speaking publicly, I was a nervous wreck. Cold hands, dry mouth, shaky knees, the whole bit. After about five hundred speeches, I realized I wasn’t scared any more. God truly was with me, and always has been with me. Every minute, every word.

Letting go of fear is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen.

Discouraged Woman

“…do not be discouraged,…” Joshua 1:9

For some of us, fear isn’t our greatest challenge; it’s discouragement.

“I’ve already tried that.”
“Nothing seems to work.”
“What difference does it make?”

We know those words. We’ve said them, thought them, repeated them.

But God says, “Do not lose hope” (NIRV) or “lose faith” (NLV). He doesn’t want us to be “dismayed” (DRA) or “downhearted” (CJB).

This is why.

“…for…” Joshua 1:9

We’ve parked on this word before. It’s the turning point in the verse, the hinge everything swings on. “Because” (NCV) gives the word more heft. “When” (KNOX) gives us greater assurance.

Strength and courage are possible because…
Fear and discouragement are no longer a stumbling block when…. 

“…the Lord your God… Joshua 1:9

Not just any God, but your God. The One we call “Jehovah” (ASV), the One we know as “Adonai ” (CJB).

“…will be with you…” Joshua 1:9

It’s a God promise, meaning it’s a finished work. He “is with thee” (ASV), he “is at thy side” (KNOX), and he “will remain with you ” (VOICE). Look before, behind, and around you, and there is God.

No one can snatch you out of his hand (John 10:28), nor will he let your foot slip (Psalm 121:3). God is with you. Right here, right now, whether you are sitting or standing, working or resting, having breakfast, lunch or dinner, alone or with company, he is there.

Have God, Will Travel

“…wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

He’s not only where you are now, he will travel with you “every step you take” (MSG), “anywhere you go” (NLV), and “in all you do” (NET).

You probably know how much I love the book of Ruth, and her pledge to Naomi, “whither thou goest, I will go” (GNV). The same Hebrew words are used here in Joshua: “whithersoever thou goest.” (GNV) Literally, it means “all manner you go, come, walk.”

The bad news? You can’t go anywhere without God.

Those of us who’ve tried to run away from God know how pointless it is. His love is too strong, his patience unfathomable.

The good news? God won’t go anywhere without you.

You are his, and he is yours. Forever.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

Now it’s your turn

In what area of your life do you need God’s strength and courage right now? Is there something that strikes fear in your heart, or weighs heavily on your shoulders? How might knowing God is with you make a difference in how you go about your day?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Just add your response under Post a Comment below. Bless you for taking a moment to add your voice to the conversation.

Next Wednesday, we’ll hop over to the New Testament and unpack #12 of the verses you love. It’s actually three very short verses in one powerful sentence. Ever wondered, “What’s God’s will for my life?” Right. Next week.

Your sister, Liz

Your Sister in Christ, Liz Curtis Higgs

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