There are times in life where it is difficult to trust God. Sure, we may intellectually know that God is there and cares about us, but when we are in the midst of tough situations in life, it can be hard to move from knowing God is there to believing we can trust him. That is why, even before the Israelites cross into the Promised Land, Moses says to Joshua:
It was at that same time that I commanded Joshua: You saw everything that the Lord your God did to these two kings. That is exactly what the Lord will do to all the kingdoms where you’re going! Don’t be afraid of them because the Lord your God is the one who will be fighting for you.
Now people may argue forever about the morality or ethics of the conquest of the Holy Land and the obliteration of the peoples who were there, but that is not the argument I want to make here. (It is dangerous to try and read the Bible with our own contemporary perspectives and not allow the culture in which these events took place or were recorded have any relevance to the discussion, but that is an entirely different topic.) The point for this post is that God is with us in our battles in life, and because of that we can trust him.
Moses encourages Joshua to remember that God has been with the Israelites in general, and Joshua in particular, through two major battles. Because of that historical fact, Joshua should always remember that God will continue to be with them in the future. Of course all of this is predicated on the people remaining faithful to God, but assuming that will happen, God will be with them.
This is a good word for us as well. There are times in life when it seems that God is far off and not responsive at all. There are times when our prayers are cries of desperation rather than songs of praise. It is in those times that we need to remember that God has been at work in the past, and will continue to be at work in the present and future. Sometimes we may not have exact instances in our own past to prove God’s action in our lives. That is ok. Look to how God is at work in the community of believers around you. Know that the God who has been at work in their lives will be at work in yours, too.
This does not mean that we will always experience happiness and prosperity. On the contrary, the reason Joshua needed this exhortation was because life was about to get immensely more difficult for him and for the Israelite people. They were going to encounter problems and battles that were beyond their own abilities to handle. And because of this reality, they needed the reminder that God would be with them and see them through all of the battles ahead.
Whatever battles you may be facing right now, know that God will be with you if you will be with him. Don’t be afraid. Trust God.