Much of the news in the world today is not encouraging. From healthcare to Wall Street to natural disasters, uncertainty and confusion abound. The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 alone is causing untold distress and creating massive loads of fear.

People are afraid of losing their health, their money, their homes and their families. We are afraid of uncertain futures, of change, of failure. In many of us, this constant fear of the unknown produces a tension that is wearying—sometimes immobilizing.

“Be strong and courageous”

But we are not the only ones who have faced gigantic challenges. I am reminded of Joshua in the Old Testament. He had plenty of reasons to be both fearful and discouraged.

Moses had died, leaving Joshua with the responsibility of overseeing approximately one million people who were prone to reactive and rebellious behaviors. Would they accept Joshua’s authority? Would they obey God’s commands? The Israelites were an unruly lot, untrained in the skills of warfare, unprepared to do battle with the giants inhabiting the land God had instructed them to conquer. Their enemies were strong and the cities were massively fortified.

Perhaps that is why God says to Joshua three times in the first chapter of the book bearing his name, “Be strong and courageous.”

God did not offer to remove all the obstacles and make things easy for Joshua and the Israelites. Neither did God minimize the fact that there was both risk and danger involved. The only reason He gave Joshua for being strong and courageous was the fact that He promised to be with them.

Courage is a choice

Courage is not  necessarily the total absence of fear. Sometimes courage is simply fear in action. It is facing your fears and naming them. And it is choosing to believe that the Power beside you is greater than the problems in front of you.

Fear is a feeling, but trust is a choice. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Is courage still available in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control? For those who choose to believe that God is with them—always, no matter what happens—it is.