Summary: As God promised Joshua after Moses’ passing, so He would promise us in the face of grief and death, "I will be with you."
I Will Be With You!
Dear family and friends of (name),
I don’t know if there have ever been 5 more powerful words that have ever been spoken to someone who has survived a loved one’s passing than these five words at the end of Joshua 1:9. “I will be with you.”
“I sure hope you are Lord, because this is not going to be easy.” Thoughts like these had to be spinning around Joshua’s mind. Not only would he have to take the task of caring for this rebellious nation that had frequently gotten the best of Moses, his mentor; but he’d have to do so with some of their greatest challenges lying ahead of them. The Promised Land was not yet theirs. There were battles to be fought, a war to be waged, reconstruction of entire cities, the distribution of lands, the governing of this people – all these burdens and responsibilities that Moses had taken care of up to now – they were to fall to him. They were his now alone, while still dealing with the loss of his friend.
But then all he needed to do was to remember that “the Lord said…” It was the Lord who had brought him this assurance. Not some two-faced earthly ruler who was looking out for his own interests, willing to say anything in order to secure his goals; but the Lord who spoke heaven and earth into existence out of thin air. It was the Lord whose word had brought his ancient ancestor, Abraham, to Canaan; who had given this same Abraham children, though he and Sarah were better than 90 years of age; and whose word had now launched Joshua and this people out of slavery in Egypt and had removed every obstacle in their path with powerful signs and wonders. It was the Lord who had spoken: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." They were words of promise in the face of grief and its accompanying challenges that lifted Joshua’s spirit’s and helped equip him for his tasks.
And (spouse’s name), they are words of promise that are just as assuredly ours as we gather here today. If this were the only place we could find such an assurance we would at least have some reason to wonder if that were true for us, but again and again I read in the scripture how our Lord would care for the grieving, meet His people with His love, comfort them with his word and grant them the assurance of his strengthening presence. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.” “The Lord is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” “I am the vine. You are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit.” “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” Even at his own passing, even as we grieve his death on our behalf, He would give us this assurance, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There’s no doubt that (name) passing has left you feeling much like Joshua, all alone, now one person dealing with all the responsibilities and tasks that used to be cared for by two. Perhaps you’ve got some errands you’ve never had to handle before; and that with the hurt and the sorrow; and without (name) help, that you had before. But you’re not alone. The Lord says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for I, the LORD your God, will be with you. I’ll be with you wherever you go." They’re words of promise to live by.
They’re words of hope that can give you strength. And strength is what we need; something to pick us up; something to give us a reason to go on living. Joshua needed that. He had seen the people of Canaan before. He and a man named Caleb and 10 other men had stolen into Canaan some 40 years earlier to scout out the territory and report back about the land and the people who lived there. What they found terrified them. The land was prosperous, but the men there were like giants. So big, were they, that 10 the men who went with Caleb and Joshua came back and said that there was no way they could be beaten.