After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' assistant, saying, "My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1: 1-9 (NRSV)
Ken Claar, from Idaho, was sitting alone in his small trailer home, reading a morning devotion. He couldn't go anywhere because of the threat of a pandemic. He was worried and a bit scarred because he was also having strong allergy symptoms that had lasted a month. Could it be the virus, not allergies?
As Ken continued to read his devotions, he found that God had to tell Joshua - a strong, brave warrior - three times in nine verses not to be afraid but to be strong and courageous. Somehow those three repeated admonitions made him a little stronger and more courageous as well. They reminded him that God is watching over him too. Then another verse from Joshua's story rang clear to him: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Those words were also meant for you and me.
The constant commentary in our news and social media can easily stir up fear and hopelessness. But we can counter that with God's words to Joshua, "I will never leave you.....Be strong and courageous." Holding on to that promise, we can relax and do the things we must do, always with the knowledge that we are not alone; our God is watching over us. "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Ps. 4:8).
Prayer: Forgive us, Father, when we forget that you are watching over us, even in a pandemic. Remove our fear, and renew our trust in you, in Jesus' name. Amen.