“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Here we see Moses telling Joshua and the children of Israel that things are about to change. He is not going to go with them into the promise land. He is handing the staff of leadership off to Joshua, whom God has called to take his place. Change is taking place in their lives, and it is an unexpected change. Change is hard. We are going about our daily lives, headed in the direction we believe the Lord is taking us then the Lord stops us and says, “Change your direction.” He makes events and circumstances happen to us that cause us to change jobs, change churches, change relationships, and to change ourselves. Even though some of us take change more easily than others, change of any nature is hard.
But in these moments of change, we do not need to fear or be dismayed. Dismayed, oh how I have found myself in that state of mind many times. I am walking along doing what I believe the Lord is asking of me and all of a sudden He changes my direction. One of the changes in my life that caused me to become dismayed was the death of my mother. I was determined that He was going to heal her from the stage 4 cancer that had taken over her body, and that He was going to perform a miracle in her. Instead, her life changed from this earth to an everlasting life in heaven with Him. I was dismayed. I was discouraged. I was so taken aback by the change that I almost walked away from Him. But He was faithful to show me that being dismayed is not what He wants for me, and He alone brought me through that sudden change in my life, and from it- I grew.
Dismayed refers to a state of brokenness. It means to break down the confidence and courage we have in Him. It also refers to a state of agitation in our minds. Change happens and we begin to question why it happened, why did it happen to us, and why is He allowing these things to take place in our lives. Then those questions lead to fear. Fear that we are not doing something correctly. Fear that we have done something to cause these changes to happen. This fear then leads us to doubt. We begin to question His care and His wisdom over our lives. Dismay is another word for worry. This dismay leads to fear, which leads to doubt, which then will lead us to disbelief. We begin to question our faith, and eventually we begin to question whether God really is the God He says He is. Being dismayed causes us to question the sovereignty of God in our lives. And the Lord says to us, “Do not be dismayed.”
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go?” (Joshua 1:9) Joshua had every reason to be dismayed. His mentor, his friend, the leader of Israel is not coming with them. This was a huge change in Joshua’s life. But the Lord encourages Joshua to “be strong and of good courage”. He tells him to take his eyes of the circumstances and focus them back on Him, the God who is with him wherever he goes. The Lord speaks the same thing to us today, as we face these changes in our lives. He says to us, “be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God our Father loves us too much to leave us where we are. He knows that for us to grow, for us to become the people He desires us to be, change must come. Change happens, it is inevitable. It may not be a change you thought would happen. The circumstances of this change in your life may not be good circumstances. But how we choose to move forward with this change depends on us. We can either become dismayed and discouraged, or we can “be strong and of good courage”. We must be confident in the sovereignty of God over our lives. If God has brought you to this change in your life, then He will also bring your through it.
When the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to be strong and to have good courage, He was telling Joshua to be brave, be bold, and be determined in this new season of his life. Good courage means to strengthen oneself. It is used figuratively to refer to the state of mind that we are to have. It means to be alert and strong in our minds and hearts. Good courage means to stay steadfast in the change that God has brought into your life. Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purposes.” Take courage in the knowledge that change in your life means that God is working in you and though you. He desires growth and fruit, and the only way that can happen is through change.
Change is hard. But just as the seasons change, so must our lives. Just as the winter passes into spring, and spring into summer, and summer into autumn and autumn into winter, so must we change as well in the various seasons of our lives. Change will come; there is no doubt about that. Change is never anticipated, but it is inevitable. Change is good, change is hard, but change we must. For if we do not allow God to bring change we will never grow. How we stand and face that change is up to us. We can become dismayed and fall into a downward spiral of fear, worry, doubt and disbelief, or we can stand and take good courage in the knowledge that our God is with us wherever we go. We can either choose to become dismayed and discouraged, or we can choose to face this change with hope for a future of growth. The choice is yours. Change will come. When it does, what will you choose to do about it?
Father God, I know that so many of us are facing changes in our lives. Some of us are becoming discouraged and dismayed at the suddenness of it all, the circumstances to which this change has taken place. But Father God, we know that You are with us. You have brought this change into our lives and You alone will see us through it. Father, I pray today for whoever reads these words that they would be encouraged to stand fast in the good courage that You have given us. That we would be strengthened in our minds, and our hearts, and that we would trust in the sovereign reign You have over us. Nothing happens to us by chance, all change happens for a purpose and a reason. May we all seek Your wisdom and be strong and of good courage through these changes. It is in Jesus name that I pray, to You alone be glory, forever and ever, amen and amen.