“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you do not turn from it to the right or to the left… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:7, 9
Recently, I had the pleasure of serving at the celebration for Sports Camp. My job was to make sure kids were safe on the inflatable Jacob’s Ladder. Jacob’s ladder is no easy task. The goal is to make it all the way up a swinging rope ladder, fully balanced, without falling off, and capture the yellow flag. A common theme ran throughout the children who participated. Through frustrated sighs and long faces I heard, “I can’t do it!”
I recently watched a video on research done on the performance levels of individuals attempting difficult tasks. When one was distracted, hackled, discouraged or berated, only 1 out of 100 participants were able to perform the task. When left alone to the task only 30% succeeded. When encouraged and cheered on, over 90% were able to complete the task with success.
I knew why God had me there. I watched how some children were able to balance, stay focused and make it to the top. I found myself directing the way they should go, encouraging them to try again, try it a different way and keep persevering. As each child began to find their groove I became their cheerleader…”you can do it!” “That’s right, keep pulling!” “You’ve got it” “don’t give up, you’re almost there!” “stay focused!” When a child overcame this difficult obstacle, and grabbed the flag at the top, I cheered loud and high fived them, the result – a smiling face, beaming with satisfaction. A few times there were kids who wanted to race each other. The one who won every time was the one whose eyes remained on the task and not on the competition.
Everyday, we face challenges, obstacles and difficult tasks, at home, at work, and within relationships. Some are experiences God has called us to, as in the case of Joshua, some are a result or consequence of a sinful choice and a fallen world. Some days are more difficult than others, but there are times we may feel like we can’t do it, want to give up and throw in the towel. In the scripture listed above, God had just told Joshua that Moses, their leader, was dead and Joshua would now be leading the people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. This was no easy task. The people of Israel had proven to be a rebellious people and they continued to face great opposition from their enemies. Yet, in this difficult task God encouraged Joshua by saying in Joshua 1:5
“I will never leave you or forsake you”, and in verses 7 and 9 “to be strong and courageous, not to be discouraged, to listen and obey his commands, not to turn to the right or to the left”
There are times we may feel weary, want to give up, get discouraged, or lose our way or our balance, and are in need of encouragement, but we must remember the faithfulness of God to never leave us or forsake us and to guide us in the way that we should go. These promises empower us to be strong and courageous, to persevere, to remain balanced and focused, and to walk with obedience and confidence in Him. As my heart swelled with excitement for those who made it to the top and encouraged the ones who had great effort, I wondered if that’s how God feels when we do not lose heart, but rather trust in him and persevere with his strength.
Be strong and courageous and offer words of encouragement to one another today.