“Write what you feel.” We’ve all heard that before, right? I’ve found it to hold true in my own life, in this case as well. I’ll be honest – I had trouble writing this article at first. Our theme is “be strong and courageous,” from Joshua. It’s used several times throughout the book, with one party encouraging the other. “Be strong and courageous” is a very direct command. Unlike some other themes that have been used before, the lesson to take from it is crystal clear; easy to figure out. Joshua and the Israelites were able to be strong and courageous because they had God on their side. With God on our side, we too can be strong and courageous just like them. Case closed. What was there to write about?
Then came today. I had to go to the dentist today to get three fillings done. Now, this may not be a big deal for a pro, like my sister, but it was for me. It was my first time, and I was really scared, mostly for the shots they would have to give me. You see, I have a pretty good pain tolerance – except for in my mouth. There are a lot of nerves in there…although maybe not as many as there were bouncing around in my head. I was really nervous. I read some Scriptures on the way there, trying to find some comfort. I really liked reading Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Well…I wish I could say that I wasn’t anxious after that, but that’s not true. I tried to stay calm – it’s just a couple cavities, right? I knew that God would be with me, and that it was really no big deal, but when I sat down in the chair I heard Christian music playing, and shed a few tears. It all turned out alright, of course, but while I sat there, I thought about our theme for this year. It’s easy to talk about “be strong and courageous,” isn’t it? It has long been a favorite. It’s right in that safe spot we like so much – comfortable Scriptures, that make us feel happy and brave. It’s uplifting. It’s inspiring. It’s hopeful. It looks great on the cover of a bright Bible journal.
And…sometimes that’s where we leave it, right? On our Bible bag, or T-shirt, or sparkly phone case. Sometimes the actual reality of a verse can get lost in the shadow of its glamoration. I struggled with what to write about “be strong and courageous,” because it’s Christianity has been so commercialized. “We can be just like Joshua. We too can be strong and courageous when God is with us.” It almost seems…surface level. When you remove the commercialization of it, the calligraphy, and the sparkles, you don’t see it as the magical invincibility it’s marketed as. You’re left with just a verse. And then, as the Velveteen Rabbit, is when it becomes real. It becomes living, breathing Scripture.
I had a hard time writing about it, because I didn’t feel it. Words are powerful. But they are infinitely more so when you can feel them. These words, “be strong and courageous,” didn’t mean as much to me until I had to put them into practice. Put them into practice! Let the Scriptures be alive and active for you. Can you feel that peace from God in your life? Not ‘can you quote Psalm 23’? Not ‘do you have a tote bag with Joshua 1:9 on it in swirly letters?’ Use the words of God to help you “be strong and courageous.” It doesn’t have to be only for the biggest, toughest challenges you face. If you’re afraid of it, God wants to hear about it.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7
So instead of leaving the Scriptures in the Bible, carry them with you, and let them carry you through all life’s challenges, small or bigger, so that you can “be strong and courageous,” more than just on paper.