One of the difficulties of going through a crisis is that we often feel alone in our suffering. Strength comes when we know that others are standing with us through our difficulties. Brothers and sisters, you are not alone. God is with us. The Lord will provide others to walk through the darkness with you. And you may be the one who is to encourage another that they are not alone. Is it enough to just tell ourselves to be strong and courageous? That may be a temporary fix. But what we really need is to know that God is with us, and that we can walk through this in community.
Let’s see how Joshua led his community to walk through a challenging time to victory. He began by hearing from God. The Lord said: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:5-7). Do you think God was clear in His instructions? Definitely! God made it quite clear that He would lead the people to inherit the promised land. Joshua was not alone! God let Joshua know that He would be right beside him every step of the way. Notice what Joshua’s orders were in verses 6-8:
1) Be strong and courageous
2) Obey all the laws God has given you through Moses
3) Meditate on the Book of the Law day and night
4) Lead the people to take the promised land
Do you think this has relevance to us today? Absolutely! I have been praying for God to keep me healthy so I can help my family, friends, church, and neighbors. Everyday, I ask God for help to lead me in who and how to help those around me. I ask for wisdom in how to help in a safe way, so I don’t infect others. Sure enough, God is answering my prayers. I have gotten ideas of how to reach out to people on social media. This week I received a message from my County officials telling me ways I can help. Two days ago, a brother in Philadelphia asked if I could help deliver already prepared boxed food to the poor. God is opening doors. The Lord told Joshua that if he obeyed the four steps I already mentioned in Joshua 1:6-9 that he would be successful wherever he went. I love how God closes His motivational speech: “Have I not commanded you? 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). Sisters and brothers, do not be fearful or discouraged. God is with you!
My pastor taught on 2 Corinthians 2:3-11 this week. He helped us to see that when Paul used the word “comfort” over and over in this passage, he used the Greek word “parakalea” which means “to admonish, console, encourage, and strengthen by consolation” (Vine’s Dictionary). One way we can help people is to encourage them by reminding them of the faithfulness, loving presence, and sovereignty of God. Paul goes on the say in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 that they were enduring intense suffering and pain due to persecution. But look at his words of encouragement and comfort to the church. “On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10). Do you see this? Paul and the servants of the church persevered because the community was committed to pray for them. Pray for our world leaders as they make crucial decisions. Pray for workers who are in essential jobs. Pray for the sick. Pray for God’s mercy for us all.
Seek the Lord as to the ways you can minister to others. Deliver food, care for an animal of a sick neighbor, give money to help those in need, call or email those in isolation to encourage them, continue to work in essential services, and PRAY. These are all ways we minister God’s love to others. You are not alone. Reach out and show others that they too are not alone!
Today’s Bible reading: Joshua 1:5-9; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.