This coming Sunday Pastor Rob will finish the sermon series based on his book, When the Bottom Drops Out. In preparation we will spend some time this week exploring a biblical and practical perspective on grief change, drawing from Scripture as well as Pastor Rob’s personal experiences and observations. How can you offer the most comfort to a grieving friend or family member? What should you expect if your world has suddenly been turned upside down? What is often the most overlooked aspect of change?
We thank Kim Miller—a senior editor at Tyndale House Publishers who worked with Pastor Rob on the editing of his book—for preparing these devotional thoughts. Kim also attends Wheaton Bible Church, and leads a small group of sixth grade girls in Quest56.
Today we are reading and meditating on several verses from Joshua 1:1-9. The text below is taken from the New International Version, but feel free to read from the version of your choice.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. . . . 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
When someone undergoes a great loss, we expect them to grieve. Too often, however, we ignore or underestimate the disequilibrium and pain that come from adapting to the transition and change that follow a major trial.
In his book, Pastor Rob talks about the night in a hospital hotel room when he first realized that Carol’s disease had already robbed them of the many simple, everyday pleasures they had enjoyed during their married life. He was grieved over this realization, but he also realized he was being forced to walk through a painful transition to a life without his best friend—a journey he never wanted to take.
Even good changes can cause anxiety. For instance, Joshua was charged with leading the Israelites through a major transition—entry into the Promised Land—just after Moses’ death. After wandering for forty years in the wilderness, one might expect Joshua to be charged up to lead the Israelites into this land of milk and honey.
Notice, however, the Lord’s command to him: “Be strong and very courageous.” Notice too that he didn’t say this once, but three times. Humanly speaking, the idea of defeating the Canaanites, who outnumbered the Israelites, seemed daunting. In fact, like all change, this major move would be hard. Joshua had to face that reality; yet he could also rest in God’s promise to go with them and give them victory.
Change is difficult; no wonder then that change also requires faith in the God who can do the impossible. Scripture, in fact, is full of God’s promises to be with us, to fight for us, to redeem us. Because God is constantly faithful, we can relax in the knowledge that God never changes and nothing takes Him by surprise. Just consider His promise to Joshua: “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. . . . No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (vv. 3, 5).
A few verses later, God reveals the secret of successful change: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Don’t make the mistake of assuming our heavenly Father is asking us simply to memorize a list of dos and don’ts, however. He added, “Do not let this Book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (vv. 7-8).
As Pastor Rob explains, our anchor in change is the Word of God. Yes, we must obey God and trust Him, but that will be possible only as we spend time in God’s Word. Pastor Rob writes, “Over and over I have told our church that it’s not so much what you do in the moment of crisis that determines how you will come out of it, it’s what you do in the months and years leading up to it.”
You are either in the midst of a major transition now or you will face one at some point. Either way, don’t neglect your time in God’s Word. It will comfort you in trials and build the faith and confidence you need to survive any change that will come. Don’t fear transitions; be strong and courageous, knowing God stands with you!
When change comes, my temptation may be to recklessly charge ahead or cower in fear. Instead, I pray that Your Spirit would remind me to turn to You and Your Word. Each morning, as daily pressures and worries press in on me, draw me to your Word, which offers hope and help, and which is my anchor in times of change.
In Christ’s name,
 When the Bottom Drops Out, page 191.