Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid

In this morning’s devotional time, I was shown the verse Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”.

That word “commanded” made me feel small and defenseless…like a child being forced against their will.

I immediately recognized that I must not know the true meaning being that word because those feelings are not of God. Stong’s Concordia, here I come. I found the word command comes the Hebrew word tsâvâh

צָוָה tsâvâh, tsaw-vaw’; a primitive root; (intensively) to constitute, enjoin: — appoint, (for-) bid, (give a) charge, (give a, give in, send with) command(-er, -ment), send a messenger, put, (set) in order

After looking up the meanings of intensively, constitute, bid, and charge, the word command (in this context) actually means (to me, I am no scholar, just an inquisitive mind):

to completely empower you to do what I have instructed you to do.

I believe what this verse is saying is God has prepared Joshua for what He needs him to do but Joshua is scared. God is a little frustrated because He has given Joshua the tools to do the job but Joshua is not fully trusting it. This reminds me of the scene in “Karate Kid” where Danny is completely frustrated with Mr. Miagi because he doesn’t see the lessons that are being instilled in him from doing all the chores the Miagi has made him do. Danny just feels like a slave and that Mr. Miagi has not held up his side of the deal to train him for the upcoming karate tournament. Mr. Miagi is frustrated because he knows the value of all that he has taught his young protégé but Danny is not trusting the process. Miagi then opens Danny’s eyes to all that he has learned without even knowing it.

So that one sentence, “haven’t I commanded you” represents all the parts of “The Karate Kid” where Danny is waxing cars, painting the fence and the house, and sanding the deck. Danny was being empowered the entire time but because he didn’t understand it, his trust was wavering. If he was in complete trust that Miagi was preparing him, Danny would not have felt taken advantage of in that moment…which was truly fear getting the best of him.

Proverb 3:5–6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

The effort I had to go through to come to this understanding was exhaustive and that was with me having the space and time to research it. When I imagine the pressure of someone standing in front of me waiting for some sort of response, there is no way I would’ve been able to come up with that.

Words have so many different meanings and each one sends some sort of visceral message coursing through our bodies. There is a gray area in between everything that one person says and what the other person hears. In that gray area lives a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad, that impact the way we receive each word. The word “command” triggers feelings of being forced against my will. Like a gun to my head, being “commanded” to do what the gun holder tells me to do.

When people are having a serious conversation, each word said requires a great deal of digging to fully understand the message. We live in a world where answers and responses are expected immediately without the opportunity to fully explore what the meaning is. Truth be told, I am not entirely sure what the solution is other than when someone does say something that triggers me, to pause, and tell them I need a minute to fully understand the message they are trying to share. This is going to require a great deal of patience from the other person and the release of anxiety on my part. Even that seems unrealistic, I cannot expect someone to just sit there patiently while I spend time digging through multiple sources of language analysis.

Maybe the answer is to be in a constant place of curiosity. When someone does say something that triggers me, ask them to say more about that. Most likely, I will hear something next that calms me and then later, when I have time and space I can explore why I was triggered by that word or phrase, allowing me to better understand the things I need to address.

Life is fricking hard, we have to accept it and give grace and mercy to those around us.

Tell me what “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” means to you.

What do you gather from this message?