I have been mulling over how to write this blog for a couple of days,asking God for insight and then the tragedy at Virginia Tech strikes at the heart of our nation.  The next chapter in the story of the Israelites takeover of the Promised Land begins after the death of Moses with a new leader, Joshua.  But just as God gave detailed instructions to Moses, He did not leave Joshua to his own devices.  In the first chapter of Joshua, God tells him three times to be strong and courageous.Joshua knew that the people living in the land that God was preparing for them would not give up without a fight.  Various kings must be conquered, overthrown, and destroyed.  He also knew how fickle his own people could be.  Did God sense that Joshua was discouraged or afraid?  I wondered why He gave him that command three times in the space of just a few sentences.  If God says something once, we better be listening but three times?  It must be very important.  So what does being strong and courageous mean?  Strength can be both physical and mental.  The enemy will be tough, the battle fierce, pain and anguish will surround them.  All the mental and physical toughness that Joshua can muster will be necessary to defeat the enemy.  But He also commanded Joshua to be courageous and courage comes from the heart.  It applies not only to bravery but the ability to endure in times of adversity.  Courage allows us to face pain or fear and keep fighting when victory seems impossible.  I see Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the movie, Braveheart, when I think of strength and courage.  There is nothing quite like his final battle cry of FREEDOM!  The community at Virginia Tech has waged a battle against an unknown enemy resulting in the loss of friends and loved ones.  They must now reconcile the horrible events of yesterday with strength and courage of heart and mind.  But they do not have to do it alone.  The student body has rallied together in unity and love.  But, whatever the battle for each of us, God is there.  He will give us what we need to overcome the adversary and make a way for us to walk in safety.  This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NLT)