Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

God commands our confident trust in Him. In a world that encourages us to believe in ourselves and to achieve all we deserve, it’s paramount to understand who and Whose we are. Society sets a bar to earn and accumulate. Accomplishments and accessories are lauded above humility and God-ordained purpose.

“Very often, people have a hard time taking God at His word,” wrote Jack Graham. “If God says it, that settles it, and there’s absolutely no reason to doubt it.” So, in place of worldly standards, the Old Testament admonishment of Deuteronomy 31:6 can serve as a benchmark in our everyday lives.

Hebrews 13:5 echoes the same sentiment, putting an extra emphasis on what not to have confidence in: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

What is the context of the verse in the Bible?

Deuteronomy 31:6 was written to encourage the people of Israel, including Joshua, Solomon, and Hezekiah’s military officers. Their Old Testament reality presented their lives with insurmountable challenges, and God wanted them to know unequivocally that they could trust Him to lead them to victory.

It was a call to obedience amidst great adversity. Two verses later God repeated, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” When we promise “always” or “never” we are incapable of upholding it. Thus the infamous saying, “never say never!” However, when God promises “always” or “never” He can be fully trusted to honor His word (Numbers 23:19).

Imagine having to follow Moses. Joshua’s call was to lead the Israelites into the promised land Moses had been guiding them towards for forty years. No pressure. Joshua had witnessed the flaws of his mentor. Surely, he harbored doubts of his own. But God assured him in Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”  

The legacy of our Heavenly Father’s character resonates in Solomon’s reaffirmation as the temple in Jerusalem finally came to fruition: “May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us” (1 Kings 8:57). Lord, capitalized, is significant. It means Yahweh, the highest and most emphatic expression of our loving and compassionate Father. He is our Dad, who loves us perfectly. It’s prose that simultaneously honors Him for all He is and brings Him close to us as the compassionate Creator of our hearts.

Genesis 28:15 says, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes of Jacob’s dream, “We should not imagine that the angels Jacob saw were marching in processing down and up the stairway as often pictured in art. Rather he saw messengers (angels) going off on missions and retiring from delivering their messages.”

Hebrews 13:5 applies the same concept provisionally, both spiritual and physically. The author, according to the NIV Study Bible, was possibly Appollos or Barnabas, writing primarily to Jewish Christians. The transition from traditional Jewish faith to following Christ led New Testament writers to emphatically remind believers that efforts to earn their salvation was not biblical. Ridding their lives of rules in exchange for a way of life demanded they put their trust in Christ alone.

Strengthen your faith in God

In the New Covenant, Christians are commissioned to go tell others of the Gospel. However, a beloved pastor of our church often reminds us, missionally, that people are often not able to spiritually hear the Gospel until their physical needs are met. Through the church, God provides for all of His people. In each individual life, God provides what we need in order for us to hear Him as clearly as He purposes us to. Our love of money threatens to steal the seat of our hearts, and when it does we lose sight of the way God provides for us. We are made to honor Him, to give of ourselves and share our time and the provision we’ve been blessed with as a result of the talents and gifts He has built into our lives. “Those who focus on Jesus will be able to accomplish many things for his glory,” says the NIV Quest Study Bible. “Personal morality and responsibility should flow from one’s persevering faith in Christ.”  

Jesus said, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Our current historical situation is consumed with covetousness. Social media is a breeding ground for us to loathe and long for another’s situation and stuff. The temptation is no longer out our window, but in the palm of our hands.

The apostle Paul, through much tribulation, stated he had “learned in whatever situation to be content” (Philippians 4:11b). “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13). Paul knew the way to be strong and courageous was through Christ who strengthens us. Not just in adversity, but when also when we experience success, and the temptation to sit idle and comfortable. 

What does it mean for Christians to have God with them always?

“And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gave you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you” (Romans 8:10-11).

When we profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are sealed. From that point on, the Holy Spirit lives in us. This is what “Christ in me” means. He lives in us. The Holy Spirit is translating, revealing and reminding us as our hearts are sanctified to become more like His until the day we arrive home in heaven. Our enemy can mess with us, but our souls are off limits because we are His. There is nothing we can or need to do to earn it. His love is enough.

In our brokenness, He uses our messes to spread the Gospel message across the face of the earth until every ear has heard. To have God with us, always, means we can be strong and courageous, because the source of our strength lives in us. We just have to remember He’s there always.

How to live knowing God will not leave you and you won't be forsaken

1. Contentment

“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought noting into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).

Christian contentment is fueled both by the constant reminder of who God is, and gratitude towards Him for all He’s done and is doing in our lives. It resides and thrives amidst our personal relationship with God.

2. Mind your mind

“We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Our thought lives are naturally bent towards toxicity. God commands we take them captive, and He equips us with the help we need to accomplish it. Through prayer, writing God’s word on our hearts, and the reminding and revealing of the Holy Spirit, we can walk fully in the skin our Father has cloaked us in.

3. Generosity

“…be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

God implores us to store up treasures in heaven, not here on earth, giving generously of our time, talents and treasures. He places people around us, purposefully, commanding us to love Him above all else, and then to love them.

Devotion for knowing God is there

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

My kids ask questions in machine-gun-rapid-fire style. They can tell when I’m becoming unenthused by the process, and as I trail off they know it’s a good time to stump me with one I won’t know the answer to. “I don’t know,” I’ll concede, to their delight.

There will always be answers that allude me, and I have learned to embrace it. I can’t fully explain to them the intricate details of how God raised Jesus from the dead, and the truth is, it doesn’t matter. He did it. It’s done. I don’t have to have all the answers; I just have to keep the conversation going. Fire away with the questions It’s ok—  He’s got the time, the patience, and all answers to all the things. We can trust that, in His time, we will know what He wants us to know. In the meantime, just knowing He’s there, Emmanuel, God with us, is enough to be strong and courageous, and trust in His provisional hand on our lives.

Prayer for strength and courage

Father,

When we are not strong, You are. When we are weak, You carry us through. Our courage is rooted in Your strength, which takes the anxieties we lift up to You and returns our pleas with a peace that transcends all understanding. Father, it’s hard to live at peace in this world. This side of heaven, strength and courage seem to be in short supply for the righteous people of God. Fill us, LORD, with Your presence, Your purpose, and a yearning for Your will to come to pass in our lives. Thank You for loving us, leading us, and calling us home. Each day, we are one step closer.

Thank you for reminding us that you never leave us …no never. Fill our days with the purposeful pursuit of Your love flowing through our lives.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Photo credit: Pexels/Joseph Redfield