Scripture Reading: Joshua 1:1-2:24 / Luke 21:5-38/ Proverbs 10:11-20
A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted to the backyard wearing his baseball cap and carrying a bat and ball. He announced, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball into the air, swung and missed, “Strike One!” he yelled. He again said, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” threw the ball into the air again, swung and missed, “Strike Two!” he cried. He paused, looked at the ball, spit on his hands, rubbed them together and straightened his cap. “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” he said as he threw the ball in the air. He swung, missed and exclaimed, “Strike Three! Wow…I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”
What a perspective! In life, we can’t let circumstances dictate our attitude but interpret our circumstances according to our attitude and resolve. Joshua was about to lead millions of Israelites into a Promised Land. They refused to enter it previously as they feared the giants and doubted God’s power to give them the land. God tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Three times in this chapter, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. Moses gave Joshua the same message twice in Deuteronomy 31. To be strong speaks of an inner attitude and to be courageous speaks to an outward behavior. Joshua’s strength and courage wasn’t found in himself but in the promise of God’s presence, intervention and faithfulness.
God assured Joshua, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (vs.5) In the Hebrew, this could read, “I will not slacken my grip on you…I will not let you go.” God let Joshua know He had a firm grip on him and would not let go. Interestingly, the definition for “be strong” is “fasten onto, to seize”. To be strong means that you get a grip on God, fastening onto Him with a resolve to not let go.
Joshua would face overwhelming challenges where all he could do was “hang on” to God. Possessing the land would not be easy but God required Joshua to get a firm hold on Him and walk in the power of that strength. The inhabitants of Canaan would battle Israel fiercely; it was imperative for Joshua to remain strong in faith and spirit. He would have to fight courageously in the strength of his faith.
God spoke these words of encouragement to Joshua because he was fearful and would face discouragement. There were still giants in the land, fortified cities and a looming question of Israel’s support of his leadership. Joshua was not to be terrified because God promised to be with him wherever he went and whatever he faced. Joshua was not to look to his circumstances but to His God. Like the little baseball player, Joshua’s life would not be defined by missing three pitches. When we are on God’s team, how can we lose? After all, God is the greatest hitter… and pitcher ever!