Daily Devotional

Joshua 1:9

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.

Most people probably don’t think of themselves as strong and courageous. That’s why we need
verses like Joshua 1:9 – to remind ourselves that we can be. By the grace of God, we can be
strong and courageous. We can face our fears and overcome them.

But how? In this verse God gives us the answer. It’s because he promises to be with us no
matter where we go.

Of course this promise was made to Joshua in the Old Testament. But it’s repeated dozens of
times throughout the Bible (e.g. Gen 26:3; Ex 3:10; Deut 31:6; Judg 6:16; Isa 43:2; Mt 28:20).

Personally, I don’t think courage is the absence of fear. It’s doing the right thing in the face of
fear. And Gladys Aylward – the British missionary to China – is a towering example of this.

Around 1936, she was summoned to appear at the local prison in her village of Yangcheng (this story was told in Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson).

Upon arrival, the governor of the prison exclaimed, “Thank goodness you have come! The
prisoners are rioting and you must go in and stop them.”

“Me?” she gasped. “Why don’t you send in your soldiers?”

“Impossible!” the man cried. “These prisoners are murderers and thieves! The soldiers would
certainly be killed!”

“But,” Gladys protested, “if I went in there, they would kill me.”

“Oh no,” said the governor. “You tell our people that God lives inside of you. If what you say is
true, surely your God will protect you.”

Painfully Gladys realized if she refused to go in, she could forget about being a missionary in

“All right,” she said slowly, swallowing hard. “Open the gate.”

She was so frightened her knees were shaking. Inside the prison courtyard a horrible sight
greeted her. Dead and wounded men were lying everywhere. Prisoners were chasing one
another with knives and screaming like madmen. And running straight toward her was a huge
man holding an axe over his head!

Gladys was so terrified she couldn’t move. But when the man was only a few feet away, he
suddenly stopped. One by one, the other prisoners stopped yelling and running and just looked
at her. Who was this short little woman? What was she doing here?

Suddenly, Gladys got mad. The man with the axe was just a big bully. “Give me that axe!” she
demanded, holding out her hand.

Without a word, the man handed her the axe.

Gladys looked at the prisoners. They were dressed in dirty rags. They were so thin their ribs
showed. They looked cold and miserable. Suddenly, instead of being afraid of them, she felt
sorry for them. “I have been sent by the governor of the prison to find out why you are

“We don’t know why we are fighting,” one of the prisoners said. “But we are hungry and have
nothing to do day after day.”

From that time forward Gladys became an advocate for the prisoners, visited them daily, and
improved their living conditions. Her courage testified to the greatness of God, and many lives
were transformed because of her witness to the gospel.

Now try to imagine what would have happened if she had chosen not to go into that prison. Many more people would have died. And Gladys would have missed out on one of the most
important lessons in the Christian life – that God is with us wherever we go. And because of
that we don’t have to be afraid.

Whatever fear you are facing today, remember the story of Gladys Aylward – the little woman
God used to stop a prison riot. And remember that God can use you too, because he is with
you everywhere you go.
"New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide."
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