Joshua had just been appointed leader over a massive number of people. I have heard estimates that there may have been two million or more Israelites. In addition to this, the people he was placed in charge of were... how shall I say this? They were not the most "agreeable" people on the planet. On more than one occasion they had made it quite clear that they were rather difficult to satisfy. God, Himself, had expressed his frustration with this group in regards to their stubbornness, defiance, lack of faith and ceaseless complaints. The list could go on and on. While they may have been the genealogical children of Abraham...I'm afraid that far too often they bore little resemblance to him.
They've been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, led by Moses. They were on the very borders of that land and then, Moses was gone for God had told him he would never set foot in the promised land. Now it was Joshua's turn to "take up the mantle" and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
The glimpses we got of Joshua previously are favorable ones. He is portrayed as a man of faith... regardless of the what things look like. Indeed, Joshua and Caleb were the only people over the age of 60 who were allowed to enter into the promised land (see Numbers 13 and 14) due to the fact that they went against the status quo and trusted that God would deliver the Canaanites into their hands.
Although Joshua had worked closely with Moses, the task set before him to lead these people must have left Joshua feeling a bit overwhelmed and perhaps even wondering if he was truly up to the task.
In the first chapter of Joshua, we read God's response to the responsibility He has placed on Joshua.
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
...and God was.
I do not believe these precious words were only for Joshua. I believe they are also for us today. There will undoubtedly be times in your life when God is going to call you to come out of your comfort zone. He is calling me out of mine at the moment. There will be times you do not know if you are up to the task He has set before you. That is when we need to remember the words He spoke to Joshua. Despite our fears and uncertainty, God tells us to be strong and courageous. We are not to be terrified nor discouraged because we are not in this alone. The LORD, our God is with us ... wherever we go.