revjoaquinwillisweb.gifGod often takes us through things that, in hindsight, seem unendurable.  Through life’s trials, we find that our ego has permitted us a too-grand image of ourselves.  Alone, we are not as strong as we had imagined.     

We often prevent ourselves from winning battles by allowing Satan to use his most potent weapons against us:  fear and discouragement.  

Satan knows that fear stops us from believing that “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). Satan discourages and demoralizes us to the point that, in frustration, we fail to try again, or quit altogether.  It is often our repeated efforts that God wants from us.  He tests our faith to ensure we know His role in our victory. 

The Christian mindset alters our thinking, giving us courage to move forward.  By believing “In Christ we can do all things through Him who gives us strength,” we begin to rethink our frailty.  In II Corinthians 12:9, Paul says, “Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness.”

Having faith that “You can do all things through Christ” requires instilling God’s thrice-given advice to Joshua (1:5-9), “Be Strong and courageous.”

Many think that victory, prosperity and success derive from power, influence and determination. God tells Joshua that the real keys are being strong and courageous; keeping His word in his mouth; being obedient to Moses’ law; and reading, studying and meditating on His Word. 

Today, many economically prosperous or influential people believe that God blesses only a chosen few and others are basically insignificant.  To dispel that flawed thinking, God’s anointed leaders are seeking to unify all of God’s people, focusing upon our interdependence and need for mutual respect. Unless all the weaker parts are honored, there will be no unity in His body or in His movement.

Popular thinking points to our battles being over, once we gain the Promised Land.  But the Israelites, sorely tested in the desert, encountered greater challenges after entering the Promised Land. However, God extracted from Joshua (1:9) a promise to keep fighting, even amidst defeat.  God said, “I will be with you wherever you go.”

It is hard to admit being a control freak, being an uneasy passenger (and not a driver), on God’s bus.  This weakness reveals our inability to fully trust God. 

We may also have difficulty in recognizing God’s gifts to us.  We either fear success, or we fear failure.  Even before we fail, we believe we have also failed Him.  The good news, thank God, is that He never fails us!

Many believe that loving Christ is enough. God and Christ have both stressed that confession of love for them is insufficient.  We are advised to be strong and courageous, to keep God’s Word, and to engage in daily study and meditation. Through these thoughts and acts, we will emerge victorious in our Promised Land battles.  With God, we are never alone. 

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at