Be Strong & Courageous
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
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.”
It’s so easy to become afraid. Whether it’s fear of the future, fear of disappointing loved ones, or fear of failing, everyone deals with fear. And while fear is something that we all face, if we let it, fear will stop us from doing the things God wants us to do.
In Joshua 1:9 Joshua had just been told that Moses, the leader of God’s people, was dead. And now God told Joshua that he would be the one to lead the people. What a huge task! We couldn’t blame Joshua for at least having a little fear. But God tells him to be strong and courageous and not to be afraid or discouraged. And this encouragement is more than a pep talk. This is God’s promise to Joshua that wherever he goes in the new land that God would bring them into—and however hard the task before him would be—God would always be right there with him.
The history of the Lutheran church in Australia is integrally woven with the history of our Lutheran schools. Since their first arrival in Australia in 1838, Lutheran settlers placed a high value on schooling and stated their concern for the religious education of their children. How were they to “sing the Lord’s song in a strange land”? Luther himself had argued for the ‘the establishment everywhere of the very best schools for both boys and girls so that good and capable men and women could be prepared for their responsibilities in the world’.
As early pioneers in a new land, Australia, I am sure the founders of our church experienced doubts and fears about the new life that was being forged. Fast forward to 2022 and our Lutheran schools have grown far beyond any expectations. Our early pioneers would be amazed to see how we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. As our schools continue to provide excellent education in a Lutheran Christian tradition, they forge new paths as they go where God is already serving in the world. We may be afraid that the work of our schools is so different from our early beginnings but in fact the need for a Christian education filled with hope and grace has never been more necessary.
As our schools and families have navigated the last two years of the COVID pandemic, sharing this message of hope, of God’s love for the world has provided a firm foundation for us all, young people and adults alike. We have many opportunities to be discouraged and afraid. But God’s promise to us is the same as it was to Joshua: God will be with us wherever we go.
And if God is with us, what do we have to fear?
Executive Director, Lutheran Education, Queensland