Daily Encouragement: Year 2, Day 156

From Handbook to God’s Promises


Staring Down Fear
(Joshua 1:7–9)

If any two people might have claimed a legitimate reason to be fearful, it would have been John and Betty Stam. From one minute to the next on December 9, 1934, they did not know whether they would live or die.

As career missionaries to China, the Stams were living in Tsingteh with their one-year-old daughter when a band of two thousand communist soldiers attacked the village. Even though they had contended with anti-Western and anti-Christian sentiment in the past, they were still shocked when the soldiers took them into custody. The seriousness of their situation set in as they heard the soldiers discussing ways to dispose of their baby.

In spite of their reasons to be afraid, the Stams were not fearful, even though they faced—and, ultimately, experienced—death at the hands of their captors. (Their daughter was smuggled to safety and brought to her grandparents, also missionaries in China, a hundred miles away.) While they were being led away to their deaths, someone called to John Stam, asking where they were going. Stam replied that he didn’t know where the soldiers were going, but that he and Betty were going to heaven.

What gives people like John and Betty Stam the ability to “be strong and courageous” (Josh. 1:6) in the face of such adversity? No doubt their faith came from the same source as that which God offered to Joshua.

Joshua also faced an uncertain future. Moses had just commissioned him to lead a fledgling nation into its new homeland. His task? To enter the Promised Land, drive out the present inhabitants (who would not be excited about leaving), and stay alive in the process. God told Joshua that two things would keep him strong and courageous: the promises of God and the presence of God. It was Joshua’s job to stay focused on the Book of the Law, moment by moment. It was God’s job to stay focused on His people’s needs, moment by moment. That combination allowed Joshua—and will allow any believer—to stare down fear every time.

God’s Promise:
Courage is found in God’s promises and presence.