Fear is common emotion throughout the Bible, and thankfully, with each expression of our fear, God negates it with one simple word: “not.” That succinct two-word reassurance and command to “Fear not” runs throughout Scripture, from Genesis (God to Abraham, 15:1) to Revelation (Jesus to John, 1:17).
Sometimes the command to Fear Not is expressed in a positive way. In Joshua we have one of the best examples of this. This comes at a time when Joshua has to fill the very big shoes of Moses. (I’m sure you’re familiar with his CV: led the Israelites out of Egypt; parted the Red Sea; received the Ten Commandments from God. And that’s only an abbreviated version.)
After Moses dies, God passes the big leadership task to Joshua: to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, and also to conquer all the people already living there. Easy to see how Joshua might be feeling just a bit nervous, and a little afraid.
In Joshua 1:6-9, God fleshes out how we are to Fear Not.
Don’t Fear: Or said from a positive perspective, “Be strong and courageous,” (1:6). God does more than dispel fear for us, He fills us, and blesses us with the antidote to fear. Don’t just quell your anxieties and worries and doubts. Courage is not simply the absence of fear. It is acting even when we are afraid, and in order to do that we need to be positive, optimistic, and hopeful.
Don’t Veer: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (1:7).
Strength and courage from God can come supernaturally as a blessing or an answer to prayer. It also comes as a result of day-by-day obedience to Scripture. When we are intimately familiar with the Living Word and internalise it, memorise it, that itself is a source of bravery and reassurance. Strength and courage in life aren’t just “Hail Mary” prayers in desperate moments—they are also the result of daily spiritual discipline in the small things.
I’m Here: “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (1:9). Perhaps the greatest antidote to fear is knowing that the Almighty God is always with us. Not only is God, the Father with us, e.g. externally, by our side, but Christ, the Son (Galatians 2:20) and the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) both live in us!
If you ever feel alone and isolated, take comfort in the fact that the full force and presence of the Trinity is “here” with you, alongside and within you.