“I wish this wasn’t happening to me,” my sweet seven-year old son said, his big blue eyes welling with tears. He was so sick, and it wasn’t fun.
After sleeping over thirteen hours, he woke up and asked me to carry him downstairs. As I balanced his long legs and arms and carried him, his pillow, and his comforting fuzzy blanket carefully down the stairs, he startled a little. He felt like he was falling.
“It’s okay; I’ve got you. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but I’ve got you,” I assured him automatically.
Immediately, God whispered the very same thing to my heart: “Erin, even though you feel like you’re falling, you can trust Me. I’ve got you.”
I’d be willing to bet you’ve felt like you were falling at some point too. The Israelites certainly did. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses tells the people of Israel that after leading them out of slavery in Egypt and around the wilderness for forty years, he won’t be leading them any longer. Instead, Moses (with God’s guidance) calls forth Joshua, a younger leader, and gives him charge in front of everyone. (Moses was one hundred twenty years old; many scholars think Joshua would have been about sixty.) Joshua had been chosen by God and trained by Moses.
The Israelites knew they would have to fight enemy after enemy to claim the Promised Land—without Moses as their leader, I bet the Israelites felt like they were falling. The words that Moses speaks to the Israelites in this moment are among my favorite in the entire Bible. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV).
Then Moses has Joshua join him before all of the Israelites and speaks directly to him: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:7–8 ESV).
I’m not sure if you caught it, but there’s a subtle difference in these two verses. In verse 6, Moses tells the Israelites, “do not be in dread.” The Greek word for dread (or terrified, in some translations) means “to tremble with fear.” But in verse 8, Moses tells Joshua, “don’t be dismayed” (some translations use the word discouraged). That Greek word means “to be broken down with fear.” The Israelites may have felt scared, but Joshua must have been downright terrified!
I don’t know what’s making you feel like you’re falling today, but here’s what I do know: whether you are in dread or downright broken down with fear, God is with you. And even more than that, He goes before you, just like He did Joshua and the Israelites. He knows what tomorrow holds, and He isn’t ever going to leave you or forsake you. That’s a promise.
So don’t be afraid. Instead, be strong and courageous. God’s got you. Trust Him.
Written by Erin Warren
Photo by Joanna Nix