As discussed here, the ministry of other Christians during a recent medical trial served to keep my sleep-deprived mind on Truth rather than downward-spiraling thoughts regarding my physical condition. I have continued to reflect on a particular letter I received during this time, because it contains key points that still encourage me daily.
After the death of Moses, God commanded Joshua to cross the Jordan and take the land that He was giving to the Israelites (Joshua 1:1-4). However, God did not expect Joshua to do this all alone.
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Sometimes my medical trials loom before me, appearing as enormous as Joshua’s task was before him. However, my loving letter-writer pointed out a couple of keys to notice from Joshua’s account. She noted what God didn’t say in His words to Joshua.
God did not say that Joshua should have courage because the Canaanites were “wimps.” In fact, the scouts originally reported to Moses that the people in the land they were about to enter were “strong” and the cities were “fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:28). As I read my friend’s letter, the medical issues looming before me seemed very difficult to conquer. I had been unable to sleep more than 1 hour per night for several weeks. I was barely able to stand. My digestive system was shutting down. I was having chest pain. My Canaanites were not wimps.
God also did not say that the Israelites should take courage because they had been strengthened during their 40 year stay in the wilderness. At the time I read the letter, I felt weaker than I ever had before in my life. How could I possibly have enough strength to overcome my Canaanites who were so strong?
The answer came from the words that God did say: “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). This promise immediately follows God’s proclamation that none of the people would be able to stand against Joshua in this quest to take the Promised Land. In my distress, I did not interpret this to mean that I would live through my physical trial. However, I did find great comfort knowing that whatever happened, God would be with me until the very end (Matthew 28:20).
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.