Psalms 19-25

“Though I walk in the valley of deep shadow,
I fear no harm,
For you are with me […]”

~Psalm 23:4

There are periods in life which may be likened to dark valleys.
Perhaps we are depressed or experiencing high levels of anxiety.
In another Psalm, David wrote:

“Turn your face to me and show me favor,
For I am alone and helpless.
The distresses of my heart have multiplied;
Free me from my anguish,” (Ps. 25:16, 17).

How, then, does Jehovah God present himself at my side when I feel alone and anxious?
In the next verse, the writer prays: “Pardon all my sins,” making a connection between the sins and his affliction (Ps. 25:18).

One of the ways Jehovah draws close is by forgiving.
But in order to appreciate His pardon I must have the right motives.

“For the sake of your name,
O Jehovah,
Forgive my error,
though it is great,” (Ps. 25:11).

True repentance involves recognizing that the most important thing at stake is not how I feel, but Jehovah’s name with everything it represents, including mercy.
To have that point of view, I must first cultivate a healthy fear of God and humility to let myself accept His guidance (Ps. 25:12).

At that point, I will no longer fear alone or anxious because God’s “rod and staff” will have reassured me, making the darkness bearable (Ps. 23:4).

Joshua, chapters 1-5

“Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”
~Joshua 1:9

These words were being repeated to Joshua, Israel’s new leader, since little before Moses died and up until Joshua commanded the men in some of the tribes to be ready for battle (De. 31:7; Jos. 1:6,18).

I have read these words countless times, seeking strength during times of high anxiety.

This time, I cannot help but wonder at how repetitive they are.

Was Joshua visibly reluctant or nervous?

He had already proved himself to be a fearless warrior, zealous guard, and loyal spy (Ex. 17:10; 33:11; Nu. 14:6-10).

Perhaps he had grown accustomed to his role of serving as minister to Moses.

Perhaps invading and conquering a foreign land as well as directing an entire nation suddenly seemed more daunting than it ever had before Moses’ death .

Or perhaps Joshua did have his worries under control and he was simply being reminded to remain calm no matter what.

Whatever the case, Joshua did not step back from the plate.

Chapter Two describes him sweeping into action, ordering spies into a city he is but days away from overtaking (Jos. 2:1).

This passage makes me ask myself: how do I react when I am given a new assignment in the congregation to carry out on my own?

It is normal to feel scared or nervous, but to reject a task simply because it is beyond my comfort zone would reflect a selfish, immature attitude lacking in faith.

Joshua was not born a leader. God trained him and gave him the resources he needed.

All Joshua had to do was stay optimistic, trusting in God, using his common sense.

He made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But his courage kept moving him and his people forward, and so God remained by his side.