Editor’s Note: This is the beginning of a new weekly series entitled Meditation Monday, a weekly devotional that aims to make much of God in the lives of our readers through sound biblical exposition. We produce these for God’s glory and your joy. Join us every Monday.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Can you believe that this is not a request, but a command from the Lord? Authentic strength and courage can’t be mustered up. Right? When we are afraid, we are not capable of becoming brave on command. When we feel dismayed or distressed, we can’t become happy on demand. Yet, the Lord commands us to be strong and courageous. He commands us not to be frightened or dismayed. And when our God – the eternal one who spoke the world into existence – gives a command, it’s not a dialogue but a monologue. We must obey.

When we face the trials of this life, we typically rest in how well we have prepared for the situation. We are confident that we have worked hard enough or possess enough knowledge to predict the outcome. Even so, we know that preparation or familiarity is not enough to guarantee victory. Our preparation lacks perfection and our knowledge is finite. Consequently, the foundation of our strength and courage is frail. Real strength and courage must be rooted in truth and absolutes.

Therefore, the Lord redirects us to a different source. He reminds us that we are not alone. He is with us wherever we go. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means “God with us.”

Jesus, fully God and fully man, entered into creation, lived a perfect life, died a horrific death, resurrected from the dead, defeated sin and restored sinful man back to himself. He is redeeming creation and making all things new. God is with us in Jesus. Christ is “mightier than all of His enemies and all the enemies of the church” (Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, 384). If you are in Jesus, you are not alone. God is with you as you walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.” As long as he is with you, you have good reason to have confidence.

In Jesus, we win even when it appears we are losing. Our perception of defeat is limited until we see the big picture of the Gospel. We live life courageously because Christ is with us and he has destroyed the enemy once and for all. As we fall short in our daily lives, we rest in the fact that it has been redeemed for our good and God’s glory.

This year will have it’s own disappointments, frustrations and failures. We may feel like giving up. The Gospel supplies relief, for now and later. Christ provides present relief bidding us to cast our cares upon him, giving a peace that surpasses all understanding and strength in every area of our life. We can enjoy life now, but only when we find our joy in him. As Augustine wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

He provides future relief, reminding us that life will not always be like this. This present world is not our home. We are pilgrims walking the straight and narrow to the celestial gates. A day is coming when pain, suffering, tears, sin and death will cease. Therefore, be courageous and strong. Do not fear. Do not be dismayed. God is with you. Go in peace, as one who has firm hope.